the quiet anonymity

We went to Milan, to eat pizza and gelato and to see the Last Supper and, for the first time this year, I didn’t want to leave the city as the day drew to a close. Perhaps it was the Christmas lights, and the well heeled ladies in fur trimmed coats balancing a pile of gift bags on each slender arm, or perhaps it was the quiet anonymity, and the introspective faces of the commuters on the tram to the suburbs where we parked, and the sombre shop windows of the garment district, each one dedicated to one particular item of clothing, and the unexpected juxtaposition of the words Asian and trattoria. For the first time in a long time I could see myself living in an apartment and travelling in the crowded, lonesome world of city buses and trains and having nothing in my fridge except half finished jars of chutney because home was only a place to sleep; it was the rest of the world that was for living.

Not that I want any of that, really. Not that I don’t still inhale deeply the first time I step outdoors each day, just to feel that fresh Alpine air drawing deep into my lungs. Not that my heart doesn’t lift every single time we drive past the exit for Servoz and know that we’re almost home amongst our mountains. Not that I can bear the way the sadness that you see in cities – in the homeless, the downtrodden, the exhausted – breaks and hardens my heart, little by little.

But as we sped home, weaving between taillights to a Moby soundtrack, I was comforted in the thought that there might just be a thousand different places on this troubled and wonderful planet that I could call home.

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