Day 126, 127 and 128: Milano

I had a really weird ride today. A woman in her fifties driving a car you’d imagine a fashion designer owns. She had hair so profusely dyed her scalp looked like an over cooked pizza base. She was well dressed and her make up, although occasionally rubbed out of place, expertly attended her sun-leather wrinkles. She looked rich and angry.

I was like 110 surprised to see her. Rarely do I ever get picked up by women, let alone ones with ironed white shirts, bling and nice cars – cause you know I could attack them, steal their money and give them wet willies or whatever. But that wasn’t the weird part. That came later.

Again to my great surprise, me and this old gal got on spectacularly. Within ten minutes (obligatory exchange about hitchhiking danger, details of my trip and a name exchange) we were having the most mind melting conversation my feeble Italian can muster.

Topics covered:
The Italian welfare system
The ownership and effect of the media in Australian politics
Education reform
Keynesian economics
Italian separatism
Regional variance in Italian food
What’s with rude waiters
The viability of a world government

I yelled and threw my arms about like a drunk wizard and she punched the dashboard and cried. It was like this for almost the entire two hour drive. It was seriously heavy. We had only just met but there I was yelling with her and watching her cry. We connected.

Well at least I thought so. About 30km out of Milan she told me we would stop at the next gas station for her to use the bathroom.

“I too need to use the toilet.” I said rather dorkily as I got out of the car. It was to be the last thing I ever said to her.

When I returned from the toilet she was gone. I had spent the last five minutes in the toilet planning to tell her how much I had enjoyed our time together but no goodbyes, no thank yous, nothing.

Either there was a miscommunication and she was supposed to drop me there all along, making my last words seem rather confusing, or something weird happened and she drove off. I’ll never know.

I saw a friend I haven’t seen in ten years today. I didn’t really know what she would be like or who she would be. All my memories of her were three feet under clear water – I knew there was something there but the image isn’t steady enough to realise what it is. To my great suprise I not only recognized her but felt like I knew her – all those underwater images pulled out and dried with only a bit of water damage.

Chiara took me out for an apertivo, a totally great thing I would love to see in Sydney. Originally apertivo meant a pre dinner drink but after an I-can-do-better-than-you-bar-feud it now means buy one drink and get unlimited free snacks. It’s unlikely you’re going to get anything creative or precise but it’s not chips and peanuts either.

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Ros’ flight arrived at 1:10am – a pretty shit house time especially considering the shit house organization of the airport. A few people had told me the whole place simply* shuts down after 1am. All the buses and trains stop and there’s no information to tell you that or anything else. Want to go back to the city? Pay €90 and get cab.

But there was no way I wasn’t going to go. That’d be like watching the World Cup final the day after it happens or not picking up a lottery ticket immediately after winning 16 million dollars. There are so many feelings in these moments, delaying rarely does anything other than dampen the experience.

I experienced Ros’ arrival a lot. The airport was tiny so I expected her to pop out pretty much immediately after landing. After only a few minutes I was already wrapped in anxiety. Has something happened to her flight? Did she loose her bags? Every shadow, blurry speck and cap of hair peaking out from the arrival curtain could have been her. They were always building up my excitement only to reveal an old man with a detective hat and a skinny nose, a woman with a hijab in a wheelchair and a ten year old boy. Stop not being Ros you teases I yelled inwardly.

When she finally came out it was past 1:30. I was sleep deprived and full of feelings. We hugged, yelled, laughed and did all the best things people do when they’re feels are unleashed. When we finished all the fun stuff it was probably about 1:50am. There was one bus left. It was going to the main train station, a rather dodgy place in the dark and rather far away from anywhere to sleep. $10 euros to get to the centre and then half an hour walk to a hostel which costs another $25. That’s probably around six hours sleep for $35. Airport bench it is.

Not the worst arrangement

Not the worst arrangement

I always underestimate how cold night-times are. Every time I’ve ever slept in a train, airport, gas station, forest, cave or whatever I’ve been colder than I’ve ever been. I wear all the clothes I own but I still end up stiff and shivering like a low battery dildo. I wake up (open my eyes, the amount of sleep is minimal to non-existent) depressed, nauseous and both layers of my socks smell like cheese that’s been fermented in those arseholes that are too fatty to be wiped anymore.

I think need to either stop sleeping in such shite locations or buy myself a blanket.

Turns out my parents weren’t the only ones worried about Ros and I camping in the airport. A couchsurfer, who had previously declined our request to meet out of busyness, became our rescuer.

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Giorgio – Insect collector, video game designer and translator – one of those people so interested in so many things they make you more interested in life. His greatest passion is insects. He has a collection of exotic millipedes and mantises so we spent our first evening eagerly learning about the rare insect trade and how mantises hunt and fuck.

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Later that night Giorgio took us to a local brewery. We got tipsy and almost fell asleep. The next day he took us to his local markets, out for apertivo and we played art-house video games on his cinematic tv. We talked a lot and felt lucky – excellent human.

The rest of our time in Milan is a bit of blur. From the point Ros arrived the order and timing of events is getting harder and harder to figure out. At some stage I had one the best paninis of my life, I took a nap in a park, we played hacky sack in a castle courtyard, went for lots of walks and visited some churches.

How creepy are Catholic churches? I’m pretty naive when it comes to any kind of religious knowledge but it’s normal to expect churches to be comforting and peaceful right? No way. They’re full of death and gore. This one in Milan, the biggest and most famous, has a statue of a skinless dude, about a dozen rotting carcasses on display and more creepy Jesus art than a choir of sexually confused children can point their sticks at.

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Does this church not look like the skeleton of another building?

Does this church not look like the skeleton of another building?

This is a statue of a guy holding his own skin

This is a statue of a guy holding his own skin

There were open graves like this everywhere. For some reason they had replaced the head but the creepy ass dead man hands were still lying across their chests

There were open graves like this everywhere. For some reason they had replaced the heads but the creepy ass dead man hands were still lying across their chests

One day Roslyn and I were walking towards a park for a sit down and a hack sesh when we heard some music trumpeting out of an old building. Me, being as musically well trained as a derelict washing machine, thought it was a live band. It wasn’t.

There was no dj, no band or any instruments at all. Just some large speakers and a few dozen old men and women rhythmically sparing on a court floor. Everyone twirling, giggling and flirting and like a gang of cordialed but disabled children. Neither of us had been on a dance floor for a while so what the heck. Ten minutes later and I’m feeling two plump wrinkly breasts press against my chest. I can’t quite figure out how to step in turn so our feet clang occasionally. She doesn’t mind, her smile and voice sound more exuberant than anything. Ros is a few meteres ahead. She’s being whisked around by a short bald man with a stern nose and a coffee tan. The four of us do a few tight circles of the floor spinning and laughing. The song ends and next we’re doing the twist with a 90 year old dude with an astonishingly sexy amount of flexibility.

I like to think this is a good prelude to my travel with Ros.

Hitchhiking summary
Rides taken: 2
Distance travelled: 213km
Average wait: 21minutes

*honesty, do I use too many adverbs?

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