16 Nov Grumbles & gratitude
I’m going to start this post with a premise: if you can’t stand a bit of a moan followed by some vomit-inducing gratitude, all punctuated with some random autumn photos, stop reading now: you ain’t gonna like it.
So, sometimes, it takes a spell of absolutely nothing going your way to make you appreciate all the awesome things and, specifically, people that you do have in your life. It’s cheesy, but I won’t apologise; I did warn you.
As you know by now, usually things are pretty great over here in Torino. Sure, sometimes I’m really busy, sometimes I’m sad that a friend has left Turin, sometimes I can’t afford to take the bus, but on the whole I’m generally quite content.
Recently though, everything has decided to go wrong pretty much all at once. And it all comes down to one little word which may as well not even have an Italian translation because it basically doesn’t exist here: security.
It started last summer, when my landlord decided to sell my flat. We knew that eventually someone would buy it, but the saga went on for so long that it was almost a surprise when he told us this August that the place had been sold.
Now, this landlord of mine is no ordinary landlord. He’s the kind of landlord who brings us gifts after we have a party until 3am which keeps him awake. He’s the kind of landlord who “can’t be bothered with the hassle” of working out how much we owe him for the heating, so just pays it all for us…for two years straight. He’s the kind of landlord who offers you a glass of wine when you go in to ask him if he can fix your fridge. He’s an absolute legend, is Marco.
Having such a legendary landlord has helped me out no end over the last 2 years, but a month ago we met our new landlady: Rome’s answer to Cruella de Vil. She waltzed into the house and wouldn’t even sit down, made absolutely no effort at smalltalk, or really any kind of talk, and promptly informed us that she needs the rent to be in her account before the 3rd of every month, just staring at me when I told her that I usually get paid around the 5th or 6th. I have a feeling we might be paying our own heating bills from now on, too. Now technically, we have the house until September, but Cruella de Rome wants to start getting some work done on the place, which means that if we don’t get out first, our house is going to be taken over by workmen doing jobs that won’t benefit us in the slightest. And we’re not very keen on that.
So why don’t we just move house? Well let’s move on to problem number two, shall we?
The Greek has been moved to the other side of the country for work, leaving me on my own in our house with no car and no spider remover and no toastie maker (although not being able to make a toastie is a relatively minor problem). How long’s he gone for, you ask? That’s a great question! His boss has ever so helpfully told him that he’ll be there for “Maybe a week, maybe a year”. And that hasn’t been paraphrased. After about 2 months, he’s still none the wiser, and this doesn’t really help with the house issue; if he’s gone for a year, there’s no point paying rent on a house he isn’t living in. But if he’s back next week, it’s a bit useless if I’ve gone to live somewhere else and he’s moved 10 years worth of stuff to a room in a flat somewhere near Bologna. So we’re stuck. And in any case, there’s always problem number 3…
…I couldn’t afford the deposit on another house anyway. Not that I can actually afford the house I currently live in, either. For a while, I was finding my economic situation quite funny, at least in a “Isn’t it hilarious that I’m out having brunch but am going to have to eat toast for every meal next week to balance it out” kind of way. Recently, it’s started to be much less amusing as I’ve realised that not only can I not afford meat or bus tickets, but I actually can’t afford to pay my rent either. Or better, I can pay my rent, but only if I don’t want to eat anything. It’s gone from not being able to afford to go on holiday as much as I’d like to, to actually not being able to survive, and I’m finding that situation a little bit tricky, to say the least.
And then, on the less serious end of the spectrum, there’s the fact that a ton of my friends here have left Turin in the past few months, including one of my very best English-speaking friends, and my probably best Italian friend.
It’s a bit of a pickle, all in all.
So on to the good things. While all of this rubbish stuff has been going on, I’ve still been having a lot of fun, partially because ice cream doesn’t cost very much, but also thanks to some great people.
I’ve started doing Greek lessons (pleasingly cash-neutral as I immediately transform my English teaching money into my Greek learning money), and it’s made me all excited about properly learning something again. My teacher is great and I, like the massive nerd that I am, really look forward to our lessons which are always filled with laughter and coffee and silliness. It also gives me something to do in the evenings besides sitting on the sofa terrified that a spider is about to crawl down the wall towards my head.
Myself and 3 of my colleagues, who I didn’t used to work in the same area of the office as, have been moved into the same space at work. Although we’re now in the underground dungeon and have no concept of night or day, it’s so fun spending my time with them, and their willingness to get work done when it’s necessary and drink tea, eat biscuits and chat about Christmas when deadlines are less pressing really makes me feel like I’ve found my little office soulmates. One of them even made me lunch the other week when I hadn’t had time to go to the supermarket. Nothing says love like parmigiana in a jar.
I’ve had a few occasions since The Greek has been gone of heading out of the house with no real plans and feeling a bit purposeless, and then finding myself out for happy coffees and fun with various people, including The Other Greeks who so sweetly include me in their plans even though The Greek isn’t around.
I recently went to the graduation party of a very good friend of mine, too. I’d been at work so turned up late, not really expecting to know anybody, but quickly saw some familiar faces and went on to have the best time with a bunch of people who I’d only met a handful of times. They’re not even technically my friends, but are always so inclusive and fun and lovely.
It’s things like that which have the power to make you feel at home even when you’re kind of doubting everything.
Everything will be fine in the end. It always is. And in the meantime, I’m just going to have to make the most of the beautiful Torinese autumn and all the awesome people that I have around me.
Life is good, and when it’s not, there’s always ice cream.