Monday at the (Milan) Office

Yesterday, this trip almost lost me. I don’t know that I would’ve booked a flight home six weeks early, but I was stir-crazy in my hostel. I might’ve caught a train to just about anywhere.

Six weeks left of this fantasy reality, honeymoon with myself trip. Six weeks I’ll never get back, never have again. Six weeks.

But pent up in my hostel room, as the rain poured down in buckets, bonkers. I wish I could say every rainy day inspired a poem, a children’s book, something out of the artsy side of me I’m slowly embracing a little more each day, but I haven’t had somewhere I’ve needed to be in three months. I love having a cell phone that rings. I quite enjoy having an inbox that is never empty. I like a walkie talkie in my pocket at a big event, meetings at inconvenient times and tasks that people will get mad at me if I screw up. I like being busy.

So on a raining buckets day, stuck inside, I might definitely have craigslist searched freelance editing jobs. I ache to correct spelling errors and cross out overused commas. I job searched on both sides of the United States. I flight searched both roundtrip and one-way tickets for plans and said job I don’t have yet. I did not focus on On The Road. I held complete attention on a bag of gummy bears.

Yesterday was not my best. Yesterday was a bit rough.

Today, the sun came out… Barely. I got outside for the first time in sixteen hours and walked to the Duomo, and I’m embracing this trip again. If this is my Monday morning, the Duomo can be my office. Sure thing.

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I walked to Castello Sforzesco, wound my way through the park and had quite a good time hanging out with myself. To be honest, I’m a little sick of myself at this point. Three months is a long time to hang out with anyone daily.

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I’m happy. The sun is peeking through, I took a photo of a couple who were self-timing photos and running to pose, I took one of someone taking a crooked arm MySpace shot of herself… I was helping people!

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I was in a torrential downpour five minutes after that photo was taken.

I ducked into a sporting good store, as I’d been told the umbrellas off the street vendors weren’t worth their cheapness for even an hour of rain. They had one type of umbrella, and it was big. How big? Four reflections big.

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After another hour, I had to go back to the hostel because my right shoe’s sole is unglued at the toe end, and thus until I acquire superglue for the second shoe fix of the trip, rain goes right through.

And it rained, and it rained, and I found a job in San Diego I positively drool over (a staff writer position for an organization I love, seeking people who can walk the line between professional and snarky-humored writing)… Yes, please. Of course, the job is for immediate start and, well, I’ve got a room booked in Venice tomorrow. That said, I feel more qualified for this job than the job Erin and I found in Amsterdam.

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The rain stopped and I made myself venture back out, wet shoes and all. Job search later, future later, now is now. I finally got to experience the high-end fashion district of Milan, I found a giant Milan park, and as I pondered how to spend my endless free time, I found these spots to spend it.

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But the real reason I’m glad I ventured back out when I did…

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Because that happened.

And it only cost me 20% of what the guys asked me for after, because I went out for a stroll in Milan, Italy with a single 2 euro coin on me. Also in too-big secondhand jeans I’m now rolling at the waistband.

I’m never going to get this trip back. I’ll spend it wisely. Celebrating a newfound happiness that had been swapped for about 36 hours of crabbiness, I grabbed dessert. As the bartender presented it to me, he said “My heart, for you.”

All I heard was “four euro,” so I handed him a five.

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I’m so clueless sometimes.

Finally, in case that bird photo wasn’t enough… Enjoy this.

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I think the last one is my favorite.

Ridiculous.

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Flashback to Rome, because it’s Pouring in Milan.

As usual, I left the Milan Centrale train station and intended on walking however far it was to my hostel. As I paused to prove I could in fact capture two McDonald’s in one 16:9 photograph, I heard the hisses and “hey lady” of a sketchy Italian man. Fine. Metro it is so I’m done looking like a tourist.

Upon arriving at the one ticket machine near the metro entrance I’d gone through, an old man is standing there with a girl. When she leaves, he looks at me. “Need a ticket?” Yes, but I got this. “English?” Yes, but I’m going to push the British flag on the touch screen myself, because I’m not a moron. “One ticket?”

I could probably figure out a metro machine in any language by now. I’m going to own that. The buttons could be blank and I’m pretty sure I’d hit the right one. If there was any other machine, I’d leave this guy, but there’s not. He tells me to put the money in the money slot. Ooohh.

We’re now both hovering for my change. Fun game. Not. I’d put in a 5 euro bill, it shoots out a 2 coin, 1 coin, 50. He reaches for the 2. “2 for me” he says. The words out of my mouth were “Hah! Yeah. Right.” I grabbed my 3, handed him the 50, he made a sad face and I cruised.

Welcome to Italy.

Leaving the metro at the Duomo, I had very basic directions. Just follow (street) and it’s on your right.

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Yes, except the Duomo plaza is massive, with what feels like seventeen streets shooting off it. Oh, and it’s raining. I know I am five minutes from my hostel, in some direction. I’m tired, the bag seems filled with rocks, and a chorus of salesmen on the street are saying “umbrella for the lady.”

Looked for a map, need to examine the area surrounding Duomo. Found… this one.

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I made it to my hostel about an hour after getting to Milan. Soaked. Tired. Cranky.

It’s pouring. Not fun wandering weather, not even “suck it up and go” weather, so I’m inside today. Luckily my hostel is brand new and awesome. Grocery store dinner, reading On the Road… and reading old travel stories…

I’m not going to Rome this trip, so an excerpt from another day it rained in Italy – July 2009.

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Getting back to Ottaviano, my hostel’s street around 6:15, I did some more window shopping, before coming across a small caffeteria- basically a super low-key restaurant. The waiter is cleaning outside, waves me over. “I know what you are thinking and no we are good. It is not too expensive. Where are you from?” “United States.” “No way!” Except his no way was more “Duh I gathered that much…” So I said CA. He says he has some friends there. My waiter is named Flore.

I sit down at a table, planning to read my book, near a table of 5 college students from University of New Mexico. After a few minutes, I end up joining them at their table, and split the only male of the group’s pizza- he’d been brave, getting a mushroom, olive, ham, salami, and egg pizza off the menu the others didn’t want to share. It was fantastic, and way cheaper than eating on my own.

This group is incredibly nice, super funny- it was their first day in Rome for their 5 week study abroad program.

Okay meal was great, food was great, blah blah blah…

The waiter. Flore (Floor-ay). Funny guy… definitely loving his American customers. He checks in every 5 minutes the entire dinner.

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An hour later, it’s time to go, I say “Flore! I need a picture.” Another girl had already taken one, and I obviously like to document these things. So I stand up, and he says “Okay, but I only take pictures if there is a kiss. She was an exception.” (first off, if I was the other girl, I’d be like what the..?) so, in a When in Rome moment, I say “Okay, so who kisses whose cheek?” “No no no, a normal kiss!” Well, alright, it makes for a good story, plus it would humor me and I havent kissed anyone in awhile… the girls grab their cameras.

He says, “I must warn you. I taste like coffee.”

Okay?

I lean in for this little peck on the lips, one that would last just long enough to get on camera.

He goes in, FULL TONGUE. I’m so incredibly caught off guard- he must think Americans suck at kissing, because my mouth was in the WHOA position, and the others are just DYING with laughter. Because according to my camera, it took 3 tongue jabs 6 pictures and 7 seconds for me to burst out laughing. Like, legit, bust up.

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I had to bolt from the restaurant about a minute later. Because thats when I noticed that just outside our secret little nook of the cafe where it was just our group, there was a family of five (three young boys)… who totally saw the whole thing. Hahahaha.

The rest of the night (I ended up skipping the hostel and staying with them) conversations were “remember when Janae made out with our waiter?” and “Flore mi amore”… Nathan looked up the word for kissing in Italian, “Oh you betchya you bechare’d that guy”….

Because that is what happens when you hang with me.

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