Tango with a grown up

by Lorenzo Piccoli

There was one day, long time ago, when I had to rank my priorities for the moment I would have been a grown up. I was in primary school back them and I remember I put ‘career’, ‘money’, and ‘family’ on top. ‘Travelling’ was on the very bottom of the list. What’s the point of travelling if you are well off in your home place, I thought.

My opinion has evolved quite considerably since then and I write this while passing through Munich on my way to Austria. The last time I was here was 2013 to attend my second OCEANS conference, which would have been followed by many others: in Berlin, Budapest, Bruxelles, and Vilnius, where I was until a few hours ago. Today I am the person I am because of all this travelling up and down. Whatever happened to my primary school ranking?

I guess it all got messed up in 2008, when I left my country for my first relatively long trip to the US with Stefania. A few months later I was in Dublin for my first – and not the last – exchange, which I enjoyed very, very much. Only those who have been on exchange can understand the excitement of starting your life all over again in a foreign place: anyway, it was there, and precisely it was when I was walking along the Liffey on a sunny day of June that I realized that being unsettled made me feel good. It was, if you allow me, a defining moment. Since then I have crossed roads with hundreds of humans from all over the place: it was often in a matter of few hours that we laughed, sometimes got drunk, and eventually always departed. With some of them I know our paths will cross again; with others we might never meet again. It is a tango: you establish a profound connection, be it with the people or with a place, and then you depart. For some, including my young self, this is inconceivable: the priority is building up your core group of loyal friends, a family and settle down in your own house. Maybe one day I will start prioritizing these objectives once again. But for now I cannot help but taking a chance, walking away, and enjoying all the genuine smiles, the instant connections, and even the occasional loneliness.