The London chronicles: trying to find your place a bus stops and an expiring sandwich

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When you are thirty and are forced leave your comfort zone, your journey in search for freedom can feel a lot like Ulysses but sharing stories is enough to feel right at home

It only takes one brief look to recognize them, people who you share a connection with. Standing behind the counter of a bistrot in London, they may not speak perfect English, but they have happy eyes, even if they serve Italian sandwiches. 

“Nice to meet you, I’m Francesca and I’ve lived in London for five months. I’ve worked in this bar for a month, but I dream of being a paramedic. I need a few more months to learn English and I will stop making sandwiches”. She recognized me immediately, we looked at each other and then I ordered (my accent clearly didn’t belie me). “Are you Italian?”. I said yes and we started to talk about ourselves.

Despite Brexit, there are still many people who think to take their first steps from the bottom of the social ladder towards a better future. You run around the city, turn in your applications, recruiters calling you all day long, you have one-day trial and get hired. A few months later you leave the job for another one. This what social mobility looks like (Kurt Lewin was right). You’ve just found out about it, whereas employers always knew.

While you think about strange philosophical theories, you run around the city too, but not as a tourist. You are doing the same thing: you want to start from scratch, you’ve just left a good post or maybe nothing at all. You vaguely remember Ulysses’ journey beyond the Pillars of Hercules. He was punished, whereas you feel the taste of freedom, which lets you run around the city, get lost and find yourself. Even if you work as a dishwater. Even if you are in your thirties and are forced to lower your standards: in Italy you would never pay a thousand pounds for a room with spiders and mice as roomates, even if there is a private bathroom (which makes one with the shower). However, when you are outside of your comfort zone just smoking a cigarette surrounded by basil plants you bought to feel like home, you manage to feel safe. Negative thoughts don’t affect you, especially if you recall that you still shared home with parents at the age of thirty.

It’s sunny in Sicily, whereas in the Tube it’s warm and there are many people pressed against each other. While you are eating a sandwich between bus stops, you can meet eyes with someone and, if you take a breath for a second, you will listen to or tell a story which makes you feel at home.

Translated by Daniela Marsala

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