When I used to think that I was some sort of genius, trapped in a country in which couldn't use my mind and suffered from “brain drain”, I decided to go abroad, in need to improve my english, cause I was one of those brain too. I searched and called a language school; I said, listen up, I need to escape from this foggy and rainy town, it's driving me crazy, I want fresh and cold air, my brain wants to go north; I have money, 'course.
“All right, said the voice at the telephone, I think you should go to Manchester, it's a good city, with nice people, nice beer, nice football, nice music...”
“Yeah, yeah, it's fine, sign me up.”
The next two months I found a job at the post-office; I worked as post-man. Plenty of mails were delivered, I crashed my moto against a car and memorized long poems so that I could repeat them in my mind days it rained and needed, for god sake, to think nothing.
One day I had to deliver to myself my Master degree certificate. I was not even thinking about it, I just forgot. People working with me said, wow, now you are a doctor, a doctor my god, congratulations!” Surely, they believed I was a genius too.
However, this had begun so many times, again and again, that my spirit can't simply bare it anymore.
When I was a boy, ready to become a young man, I used to spend all my afternoon alone, at home, waiting for the rain, watching its fall and its blessed beauty. I didn't like studying. Teachers hated or ignored me ( especially those of philosophy and english literature ), and I was just happy with that. But sometimes “important deadlines” approached, and voices around me started to say, you must attend school classes, and you must get a good job, aren't you worried about your future? You simply can't stay all days doing nothing. Well, even now people say to me these sort of words, “future, good, must...” At that time, people willing to help me said to my parents, it's your fault, you must get a good private teacher that can teach your boy latin verbs, so that he will be able to traduce our simplified and classified texts by Seneca, Virgil, Cicero and Caesar. Finally, my parents took me to a good, old latin teacher. My grandmother was driving the car under the rain. I was staring at all those little drops swimming towards south on the glass, and thinking, my god this is exactly what happens, everything just gliding on something that we can't see, and mixing and disappearing; what is the meaning of this? Are we only soft caresses on god's skin? What am I? All days people wake up and walk and search things they should fix or take or deal with other people, and don't stop, never, like I do. There is something wrong in me ( what exactly I couldn't tell ). I thought about suicide; maybe it was destiny and my sorrow only a symptom emerged to consciousness from the deeps of my sick soul. The idea was tempting and I really enjoined watching and keeping it. It was my secret, it gave me strength. But for some reason I could never accomplish with what it seemed to be the right, perhaps even good for a future that I didn't want and ask, thing I should have done. I believe it was because that idea was beautiful.
I put music, “moonlight serenade” or “for Elise”, and cried, drove by a mysterious feeling which told me that everything doesn't mean absolutely nothing and that this was the supreme wiseness, among all ideas the most important one, and then, exhausted for this great revelation, I sit down, feeling happy and watching outside the window my silenced melancholy.
Eventually we arrived to the teacher's house and she said, you must be a good boy and memorize this, and I replied, rosa rosae rosae etc...
Back to my room I just began watching again spider's webs and the rain out of the window. It was winter and a grey mist had swallowed the town. From my room I could see the bell tower of the church near my house. It's called Chiesa dei Servi ( Servant's church ) and I stood so much time staring at it that in the end became my best friend and I told him what I thought about people, war, God, asking to not go way, to not disappear, but to keep upbearing that little rusty cross, which greeted every year the cries of the swallows flying around, whereas it would float and dive six months later into the deep abyss of the blank, dense fog coming from the universe.
Again, I put music. Usually it was Mozart, the Aeternum Requiem, the first part of Requiem ( K626 ), but that day I choose Brahms and on the screen of my cd-recorder appeared “Solaris”. ( I don't remember where I found this little piece of Brahms' work and unfortunately I lost that cd...) It was raining outside, and the world was a huge river sliding on a desert of rooftops. I watched the church's tower, and thought, my god, what is all this? What is this place and beauty? I couldn't move and almost forgot I was breathing and alive. A perfect moment of being inside my room. My god, I kept thinking, everything seems so different from other days and I can see WHY this wall and this window are eternals and WHY they will disappear although. I took a pencil and a piece of paper, and began drawing that wall, that window, the church outside and the eternal rain.
This was an astonishing night. I was living in Barcelona. I wanted to go out and drank a lot with my usual friend, looking for pretty girls. He is a crazy guy who likes talking to everyone, approaching to ask something about night or life. Well, we met on front of a discotheque, started to talk and then making and asking crazy things to the people, trying to take home something or someone that at first sight appeared important. This night he found a girl and went home or somewhere else, leaving me alone; has been since university that I learned that rule, namely to leave alone your friend and not ruining the “magic moment”, as they say.
I rolled up a cigarette and waited for something to occur. After a short time I saw a little group of people sitting on the floor in front of the discotheque. There was a girl and two guys, they seemed to be talking without interest for what they were saying. I approached them. They were speaking english and I started to talk too. I asked where they were from and they replied, Dublin, and I said, oh my god, Dublin?!? what a nice place where to live! We talked a bit, till I got some of their trust, and I sat between the girl and one of the guy; the other one was standing and seemed something like nervous. The girl wanted to learn some of spanish word and I told her all that I could. And there we are, yelling at people who didn't care about us, Hijo de puta! Mierda mierda! Me cago en dios! Gilipollas! I went buying some beer at 1 euro to one of pakistans wandering around with their golden merchandise. I bought four, one for each one of us, me and my new dubliner friends. We drank and spoke a bit, then the boy standing looking at me and the girl began saying that they must get going because tomorrow they had the flight. The girl and I replied that it would have been a waste, such a great time we were having. He got more nervous. The girl stood up ad started talking to the boy. I followed her and tried to convince him to stay. This was a great night. We talked and talked. This was a great holy night in which we vanished all together, like crazies we ran towards ours happinesses screaming and howling, my god, I felt like being Kerouac, I felt like that was all what we were allowed to do in this strange world, uauuu uauuu, denying all suffering, yaiii yaiii, blessing all the rotting things that just don't want to work, stepping and dancing into the puddles left by that afternoon rain, and falling exhausted for that innocent joy, like the girl did, we could reach together, leaving me and the other guy, enjoying the entire world's loneness and joyfulness which only ask for a little step forward into the abyss of bliss. I made that step and kissed the world.
The evanescent sparkles of deep nights were somethings I learned to recognized in the last years, when I attended university. I had a good teacher, and my heart never stopped beating when I had to drink from the dark and mysterious source of foolishness.
Of course, somehow my parents managed to grant me access to the university. It was a good italian university; at first I hoped I could meet interesting people, with ideas and burning fire inside their soul, so that we could talk about humanity, history, philosophy, religion; I couldn't wait to listen to professors' teachings and read books they wrote and know projects they sketched. I studied, and worked, so that I could buy me books, too. I read a lot, Hemingway, Poe, Woolf, Schopenhauer; eventually I built a good personal library so that my family would rise their intellectual and social rank. Luckily for them, their son was still a genius.
In last years I found myself in a normal student diary routine. Going to class, preparing exams, studying in the public library; I succeeded and failed various exams, but I didn't worry too much about them: I had an objective and was determined to accomplish it. The little boy who liked sadness became a young man with a work to do. He, who loved staying home alone contemplating his pain and the world, transformed into a great party-man, who would never say no to a beer with friends, and he would of course try to drink much more than other people, getting applauses and happy, drunk eyes on him. Unfortunately even with seas of alchol inside himself, the brain worked well, so that everything he controlled and decided, continued to appear good; everything was good and right, without wonders or questions, the eyes captured the world and thought that even those strange colours and glimpsing sparks of light were good and right, and told the brain, the work you was assigned to must be done, till the very end. People making party with this great brain-man till late night, did not manage to succeed in their exams, whereas he did get good notes. What could be wrong in this? That is, a successful life with friends, parties, accomplished jobs and lots of alchol; a life in which a very clear distinction is made, between sadness and happiness: the former being avoided, and the latter being pursued.
I hated the rainy days, when I had to go to the library or back home; my god, I thought, what a bad luck, I hate hate hate rain, damn you, I have plenty of books to read and next week there's that exam which people say it's really hard, shit, rain makes me nervous and I can't be nothing but focused on what I must do, and doing it well, for my future.
Finally, last year came and I began working to my final thesis. I dug myself deep into this work. Occasionally rain and other natural disasters occurred. The sky was liquifying, falling, the earth trembled and crashed, but I was closed in my room and when headaches and absolute terror for tooth decay let me rest I thought, my god, nature is so terrible and frightening, it seems not wanting me to study or work, always raining when I have somewhere to go, always snowing when I have to drive the car. How can I find peace in a place like this?
I hung up the phone and thought, thanks god I'm leaving this horrific place. Few months passed, I worked at the post-office, I crashed with a car and was a disgraceful genius who wanted to study at Copenhagen university.
Finally I came to Manchester and met my future house-mates. The owner was a young black man from London who wasn't doing nothing at all; he said “I'm making a film, it will be called Twodogs and you'll be there too;” his favourite films were th italian Nuovo cinema paradiso and and the trilogy of Twilight. I didn't find any time to think about what he said to me. The others were a mexican and a spanish boys, and a sicilian girl. They called their house “the crazy house” but I never found out why. I spent all my time studying English, because, of course, I was a genius after all. It rained almost all days and I was surprised how people didn't really care about it. I went to school, studied hard and didn't ended knowing anybody among my class-mates. I just went out some nights and one of these I met a pretty girl who asked me, got a lighter? She took me one rainy night to a good old-fashioned pub where were allowed only people living there ( fortunately I was with this girl ), and we sang with some other guys at karaoke, drinking coca-rum. I chose “Mother” by Pink Floyd.
Tha last day of my staying in the crazy house I decided going for a walk in the center of the city. The house was in a distant district from the center, so that I let sliding in my eyes lots of pubs, churches, fast-foods and gardens. I crossed a street full of haircutters and bars offering tee and shisha. It is amazing how many people from all over the world were living together, I thought, where is that little piece in this extraordinary order that doesn't work? Was it poverty? Was it for having or not having sex? Or was simply because the skin's colour? Or because they prayed some gods with different names and wills? I kept walking.
I remember that, when I was a little boy and felt in love with tha beautiful colours of empty skies, my grandmother and her sister used to take me to holy worships in the church near our house, every sunday morning, and that I was just happy with this, I could sing, listen to holy words, of which I didn't really understand the meaning, but with which I could draw in my mind figures of golden triangles, huge mountains or people talking about God and love and compassion. I really believed that everything would be all right, while breathing suave sweet smoke lightened by flying, eternal candles. Be always a good boy, my son, said my grandmother. I couldn't even think that words like those didn't make possible that people stopped arguing, being so sure they were right, accusing other people because being scared about something, offending, mortifying, shooting and making bombs. How is this possible? Were not people who killed other people with weapons or deceptions? Was I a fool for saying, peace peace, to everyone at some time of holy worship, every sunday? What did it mean “god” if wars were caused by people and not by some sort of supernatural force with a will? Did not everyone had a person who said to them, be a good boy, or were there instead “bad” people listening to others voices, other words, and smelled not the holy smoke while watching saints' life on coloured glass window, but ashes of rotten roads in the world? Every sunday I couldn't explain myself what those great and important words did mean and how could a little hour of singing and saying, peace peace, could give me, while going out from the little church, an immense happiness, just looking at the sun, behind clouds full of rain. “God” became a word for me without meaning; it was dead.
I regained consciousness of my walking through Manchester's street. I crossed some districts, looked at people and what were they doing, working, chatting at pubs, walking, just like me. Eventually I reached the center, where high palaces were built, covering the sky.
After few meters I looked at my left and I see a big sign saying “Natural history museum.” This was the perfect place where to say goodbye to Manchester and its lands.
But it was closed and wouldn't have opened before one hour, so I turned around thinking what to do while waiting. On the other side of the street I saw a big, tall church. It's been so many years since I went inside a church, I thought, well, except for Salamanca's cathedral.
This church however was different from that spanish one; Salamanca's cathedral was a long and golden built, with very little towers or open arms searching the sky for a hug, but only one, where her hearth is protected; her belling would alternatively fright the noisy birds, making them flying away, and allure the silent community of faithful people, walking inside that huge body through opened, deep wounds. But that church I found in Manchester was not a living body; it was an infinite tree, growing into the skies. Like another little church I saw every morning in the street of the school, it had a solid, plane basis, made of strong and black stones, perfectly put one on another, in order not to protect praying people, but to patiently reach promised heavens. A hard and long work, maybe useless and tragic, it must had been appeared in those sad rainy days that washed Britain from her heart's inquietudes. Totally different from the bored spirit of spanish people who walked and slept under a burning fire. Inside that big golden body it's a new world created by a new god; you walk and realize that you're lost in an infinite desert, without directions or friends that can help you; a strange feeling begin to bother your soul and all hopes reveal themselves to be but great illusions, except fot that distant light up in the nightly sky, maybe a star, a star made of fragile coloured glasses, so that you begin to think about astronomy and follow that strange light; where it's going, you ask yourself, just like those three philosophers in Giorgione's paint. Salamanca's cathedral is a walk in the desert, during night, while chasing a weak light, maybe unreachable. It's not a tower, like churches built under the rain, it's an infinite wandering, an unbearable travel. This church of Manchester knew as well that man is not supposed to touch heaven, nonetheless it continued and continued, without changing place, walking, of course, but vertically, on invisible stairs; how tall it will grow without falling? Prayers could breath a heavenly smoke, and sing and hope there is some god somewhere up there, continuing building their wet faith.
Finally I decided to enter in the church and, after taking a long breath, I made the first step towards that paradise lost. I would have entered the tirelessly gathered informations museum, later.