i’m leaving milan for new york tomorrow. and i may be moving further, after that. but for now i’m sitting here in my cold almost former bedroom with two-and-a-half overstuffed suitcases and the smell of cleaner for company.
i got used to things here so quickly. i heard trains rushing by in the night, same as i did growing up, which helped me sleep. (my theory’s that if you can sleep well in a certain place, you’re halfway to forgetting you ever lived anywhere else.) but once in awhile i walk into the lobby and forget that i live here and i smell the place for the first time. sometimes when i take the tiny two-person elevator i run haphazardly into the memory of how i stuffed my luggage into it the day i arrived, of how disoriented i was when i first stepped off the plane. xanax and a layover in brussels didn’t help. sometimes i wonder what i would forget if i had never left new york. i had been there well past the point of forgetting to remember the first times.
somehow, the kitchen where my roommates first reigned, all swinging stovetop espresso and fast-flying italian, became my domain in part, too. i’ll miss the balcony. but the people, most of all.
today was a feast day for sant ambrogio, patron of lombardia, the region of which milan is capital. the streets were empty and i took my bike out, rattling down the cobblestones through air that just this morning turned frigid. i rode down to parco sempione, where i used to drink big, cold bottles of prosecco and eat cheese, crackers and fruit for brunch with friends in the springtime. we’d first throw down a sheet then throw down ourselves, emerging hours later buzzed and sunburnt and completely in awe of our good fortune in waking up here in italy and finding what would turn out to be a friend rubbing his eyes next to us, discovering the same. but today the sky was gray, portentous, and a confounding christmas market snaked around the entrance. most of those friends have left, or are about to leave, milan.
later in the day, it snowed. for all the first times i remember (in milan: the first aperitivo, the first day at work, the first road trip; but then, also, every beautiful heartbreaking earthquaking first in life), i can’t remember the first time i saw it snow. i guess i’ll count it as today.