On a summer weekend I went to Schwuz with Ernesto, Deependra and our other common friends. Going clubbing with my ex, reminded me on those great times in London, when we used to go out. That evening I also met Carlos, a Chilean colleague of mine, who happened to be there with Christian, a cute Swiss guy friend of his. As usual nothing happened. My love life kept on being a total disappointment. I went from dating Jonas, a handsome Bavarian liar, to an extremely Catholic but still cheating Pole till I ended up with Rico, a German BVG employee. Rico was 9 years older than me, he used to drive a tram in the centre of Berlin and he did not own a car driving licence: apparently it was not compulsory to have one for tram drivers at GDR times. At our third date, Rico took me to the flat of his ex-boyfriend Tobias who was making dinner for us and his boyfriend Jonas. As soon as we got at Tobias’, Jonas opened the door and…
…And I was totally out of speech. Tobias’ boyfriend Jonas, was the very same guy I had dated a week before and because of his apparently extremely busy “work” schedule I had decided not to date anymore. “What a small World”, I thought and I realized that Jonas’s busy work scheduled was his relationship and most likely also his other affairs. I was disgusted and embarrassed at the same time. I did not want to be there and I could not say anything because it would have looked terrible: How could have Rico understood, that just a week before we had met, I was dating his ex-boyfriend’s boyfriend? Tobias introduced himself and a couple of other friends who were already sitting at the stylish dressed massive wooden table and he asked me to take the last seat available, which happened to be right in front that of Jonas. Rico was sitting on my right side and Tobias on Jonas left side facing Rico. I was uncomfortably shifting my glance from Tobias to the other guest sitting on his left and trying avoiding any eye contact with the cheater seated in front of me. “How could he?” I thought. Just a week before Jonas had even given me such a passionate kiss and now I found out he was already in a relationship with someone else at that time. I was totally distracted by my thoughts when I saw Rico standing up and leaving the room with Tobias and the two other guests. They had to go in the kitchen to get the food. I asked Rico if I could follow, but he denied telling me that four people were enough. And there were we, Jonas and I. Just a table with candles between us…
“Do you find this situation uncomfortable?” He went.
“No.” I lied to save my proud.
“I would appreciate if you don’t say that we know each other” He followed.
“W H A A A A T ? “ I exploded… “How could you say that? I will wait until we are out from here, then I will tell Rico, I cannot hide this from …”
“Do you know each other?” asked Rico who was back from the kitchen.
“Noooo” “No no” we denied.
All the others had returned and more or less happy we toasted with a glass of Martini Bianco. During the starters and the first dish, Jonas did not stop talking to me and repeating to the others how interesting I was. He kept on flirting with me for about one hour, showing self confidence and non worrying at all about being caught cheating. Eventually I stood up and I said I was not feeling too well and I left. Rico followed me and I told him the whole story, asking him to be discreet and reassuring him that it was not my intention to hurt anyone. Tobias broke with Jonas the day after and thanked me for my honesty.
Warsaw, Poland – November 2006
After three weeks dating, Rico and I decided to go for a weekend somewhere and we picked up Warsaw as an easy and cheap destination. As Rico was out of cash, I paid the hotel, which we had found in the Internet and the train tickets out of my own pocket. At about 5am on a cold snowy November Friday Rico and I met at Ostbahnhof Station in East Berlin. The train left punctual and we managed to find very good seats with table in one of the front cars. When the train reached Szcezin in Poland I realized Rico was not the right guy for me. I had thought this trip would have given us the chance to get to know each other, however after 5 minutes the topics were over and Rico preferred the antisocial “I-will-read-my-book” way. Luckily I had bought myself a Polish for beginners book and I spent the time learning how to pronounce: “Przepraszam, jak sie pan nazywa?” The Polish for: “What is your name?”
We reached Warsaw in the early afternoon, we got off the train and decided to head for the hotel to get a shower and leave our luggage there. After half an hour of research we figured out that our bus stop was just in front of the train station. The bus was definitely none of the latest model of its kind. There were a couple of holes here and there on the floor, broken plastic cords were hanging from the metal bars to give the passengers something to hold to, during the turbulent drive. The hotel was a former Commie-block, converted into a cheap 0-stars hotel with broken windows, dirty dishes and uncomfortable single beds. Yes, it had been cheap and no, I won’t describe the bathroom. A couple of hours later, Rico and I were in Stare Miasto, the gorgeous city centre, with its colourful pretty townhouses, large squares, little roads and city wall. We drank hot beer and ate some Polish cakes in a cosy small café. At dinnertime Rico had a pizza, which he covered up with ketchup: Another sign he wasn’t done for an Italian boyfriend. I opted for “Bryzol Wieprzowy”, a Polish version of my “Cotoletta alla Milanese”. In the evening I decided it was the time to tell Rico, I wasn't’ up for a relationship with him. He agreed and admitted he had the same problem with me. I was rather surprised of the peaceful and boring way we broke up. Was I too Italian and unable to end up an affair without drama?
The day after we left Warsaw at about 4pm. The train was running fast through the Polish countryside, I was looking through the window and due to the darkening sky the image of Rico reading his book was reflecting more and more on the glass. Suddenly a Polish waiter interrupted the silence and asked us if we wanted to have some coffee. I paid one for Rico and the Polish man gave him a plastic mug and poured the brownish liquid into it. Eventually the train made a turn and Rico dropped some coffee onto his jeans. I could not avoid laughing as that scene was really funny, but my reaction was not appreciated. As soon as I kindly asked Rico if he wanted me to get him another coffee, he replied with a nasty NEIN!
As I felt he was too moody, I took my stuff and I left the seat heading for the restaurant car, where I spent about 2 hours having a beer alone. I was just thinking, how could one be such an arrogant twat when he sent me an SMS asking me where I was. I replied “I am in a stress-free place, let me know when you feel better”. He asked me to return at my seat and so I did. As soon as I was there, he asked me what was wrong and I explained him that I found his behaviour annoying. He defended himself, saying that he was angry because his jeans were dirty and I laughed about it. And so did come my Italian ending: I took a one-litre bottle of coke and poured it to the last drop all over my trousers. The Polish passengers could not believe their eyes. Then I returned to the restaurant car and I left Rico behind with these words: “I don’t think a pair of jeans should be more important than the feelings of another person.” I have never seen him again.
The week after, Daryl, my fifth ex-boyfriend, came to Berlin to visit.
London, England, September-December 2000
Just like back in September 1998, I had booked a room for two weeks at a hostel. This time the location was Edgware Road, right in front of the flyover and behind the Hilton Hotel. It was a single room with shared kitchen, shared toilet and shared bathroom with shower. The state of the accommodation was inhuman. The kitchen hadn’t been cleaned in months: a great party for billions of bacteria and insects. The toilet was so tiny that one could not shut the door when seated: there was just not enough space for the legs. The shower was slimy and a brownish liquid was leaking constantly from the ceiling. Discouraged by cooking in that dirt, I set up a kitchen on the small desk in my bedroom. An electric cooker, a pan, a dish, a mug, a fork, a spoon and a knife were all I needed. I cleaned as much as I could before unpacking all my stuff. When I was ready, I took a shower, I shaved and I called Daryl. He sounded excited to hear my voice, I told him I lived in Edgware Road and he asked me to meet him at 10pm in front of the tube station… “I work in Warren Street, that is just a few stop away with the tube on the northern line…” He said.
10pm. I was there, in front of the exit of the Circle line stop: Egdware Road. Daryl wasn’t there. I looked on the London underground map and I realized that the Bakerloo Line also went to Edgware Road. There had to be another exit. I called Daryl and I made him aware there were two exits and that I was waiting in front of the Circle Line entrance in Edgware Road. He told me not to worry and that he was going to be there in a few minutes. 15 minutes later Daryl called me saying that he could not find the other exit and he was going to take a taxi because he had walked in the wrong direction. At about 10:40 Daryl was still not there. I had the feeling he was just making fun of me and I decided to call him and to tell him I was going home. No answer. Voicemail. “Daryl, I am sorry, I will go home now, please call me when you are there, if you ever will…bye”. How could he have walked in the wrong direction for a few minutes and taken a taxi for over 20 to come back? I could not trust the guy. It started raining, I was quite upset, I went home and I called Rob for a few minutes to hear a trusted voice. My mobile run out of credit after a few seconds: calling the USA was not cheap. Then it rang. It was Daryl again. He said he was waiting in front of the Hilton Hotel. I run outside, I turned the corner and there was he. I had not seen any pictures of his but he had described himself in the chat. He did not have his “brolly” with him and his blond hair was totally wet. We smiled at each other and I took him to my place. That night we made love and he became my boyfriend, the first guy I have really loved. “Why were you so late?” I asked. “Coz I went to Edgware on the Northern Line, which is about half an hour away from Edgware Road!”
Love was surely found, however there were still two things missing in my life: a better flat and a job.
One week of love later, I realized that I only had 1 week left to find a new home. I called Dan to find out if his friend Simon, my former landlord, had a room available in one of his houses. Dan’s answering machine informed that he was in Taipei to visit his parents. I managed to reach Raffaele who knew a girl from Rome who had a room to let.
I called the number Raffaele had given me and I spoke to Alessia, a girl from Bari who was renting the second room in the flat. After a short description, I said: “OK, I’ll take it”. I could not be too picky with my budget and waiting another hour could have meant losing the bargain. My move was planned for the following Monday. I did not see the need to view the flat: it could have not been worse than the one I was living in.
As the accommodation problem was solved, I only needed to get a job. Easy task. 24 hours later I started working for my previous employer at the fast-food restaurant. “It’s just a temporary job. I need it to pay the bills until I’ll find a better one!” I kept on telling myself, while I was trying to convince my future boss I intended to start a career grilling burgers there.
The following week, on Monday, I had arranged to meet Alessia at 3pm, right in front of Brixton underground station. That day, at 2pm, I walked to Edgware Road Underground Station with my huge and extremely heavy two bags, I went down the stairs and I read the sign that the trains were delayed due to signal failure. I sat and waited, my mobile phone was out of credit and I knew I was going to miss my appointment. Two hours later I was in Brixton, I came out of the station and I saw no one was waiting there. I thought Alessia must have returned home and I went to the phone booth right next to the tube entrance to give her a call. My bags were way too big to fit in the telephone box, so I left them outside and I kept the door open to keep an eye on them. I took everything out of my pocket, grabbed the BT telephone card, placed my wallet and the piece of paper with Alessia’s contact details on the small black shelf and I dialed the number. Alessia was indeed at home and she promised she would have reached me in 15 minutes. I went out to move my bags a couple of meters away, as I saw a woman going into the phone booth. I followed her quickly and I managed to grab my wallet before she did. Grinning, she turned her face and said: “Nearly… Welcome to Brixton”.
The flat, which was somehow better than my previous one, had its down sides as well. Alessia had converted the living room into her massive bedroom, excluding me from its use, except on laundry days. The kitchen was clean but tiny. The right wall of my bedroom was wet due to some leaking water, which seemed coming down from the flat above. In the bathroom an extremely old washing machine was uncomfortably placed between the sink and the bathtub. There was a box of tools under the sink, which was needed on laundry days. During those unfortunate days, I had to remove temporarily the pipe from the sink and fix it to the machine, place the dirty water pipe into the bathtub, connecting the machine to the mains with a 6-meter extension cable through the hallway under Alessia’s bedroom’s door to the only functioning plug in the flat. Last but not least, the electricity had to be “charged” at the drug store around the corner through a blue plastic key.
Where my Roman landlady was, was a mystery. I only needed to give Alessia 65 Pounds per week and she would go to the bank to pay the rent in cash. Daryl did not like being around in Brixton too much, so I used to sleep at his place almost every night. He used to share a newly build 4-bedroom terrace house in Greenwich, not too far from the Cutty Sark. His flat mates were all nice guys, Kath and Keith were always kind to me, but I had some issues with Paulo, the Portuguese guy, who seemed to be jealous of Daryl and me.
Towards the end of September I went to the enrolment for the Marketing and International Business Degree Course at the North London University in Holloway Road. It was a part-time degree course and I could take up to 2 modules at the time. I opted for Marketing and Quantitative Methods. I was standing in the queue, waiting for my turn to come, when I heard someone pretty loud, talking French with a strong Italian accent. As it was a familiar voice, I looked behind and I tried to figure out where I had seen that guy before. After a few seconds, I shouted: “Massimiliano! Sei tu?” Massimiliano recognized me and we were both pleasantly surprised to find out that we had chosen to attend the same modules. I had lost contact with him since I had moved away from Bayswater and it was great to find a known face in the university.
My Monday-to-Friday schedule was getting really busy. I used to wake up at 5am, work at the restaurant from 6am to 1pm, attend my modules from 2pm till 5pm and meet Daryl at 9pm. The gap between 5pm and 9pm, excluding 1-hour for transportation, was soon filled with another job: Viagra Market Research Interviewer.
On a Friday evening after calling some 20 Sicilian men on their sixties and asking about their Viagra experience, I went home. Daryl was at his friend’s Colin in Brighton for a long weekend and Alessia was visiting her relatives in Italy. Once outside Brixton underground station I lighted up my cigarette, I gave Daryl a short call and I started walking towards home. I was dying for a hot bubbly bath, a warm soup and a relaxing evening with a book. There was I, I opened the door, press the switch to turn the light on, but nothing happened. “Shit”, I thought, “The bulb must be burned!” I went to my bedroom and realized that there was no power there either. “The bloody plastic key!” Alessia had taken it with her. So much for the hot bubby bath, the soup and the book! I went to bed without dinner and I spent the whole weekend with neither electricity nor hot water.
The following Monday Alessia was back with some bad news. The Roman “landlady” was coming to London from some Caribbean Island and we had to turn Alessia’s bedroom into a living room again. I was rather confused, I asked for explanations and eventually I got to know that the flat belonged to the council and I was paying a sunny vacation to the Roman girl. Apparently some council workers had to come to fix the leaking problem and Alessia and I had to pretend that we did not live there. At the same time the other girl would have interrupted her sunbathing to fly back to London. I was that disgusted that I left the flat on the spot and I went to live at Daryl’s until I found a new home. A week later the Roman girl realized that her dirty business was too risky and decided to live in the London flat and look for a real job.
On the first week of November I moved to Forest Gate in East London. Massimiliano had found me a single room in a cozy IKEA furnished house, which belonged to a gay couple. The house happened to be next to the one where Massimilano used to live, which made us neighbours.
On the second week of November a mouse moved in as well and it was chaos. It’s funny to see how such a small animal can destroy the peace in a gay house.
I was tired. I had 2 jobs, a university and a boyfriend and since September I had moved 3 times. It was time for a change: I needed a better job. I got my C.V. ready and within two weeks I managed to fill a great vacancy as a network technician for the aviation industry. I did not know much about routers, but I had a diploma in I.T. and language skills, which helped me getting that well-paid position. I started working for my new employer in December, after quitting both my two other jobs and the university.
My office was near Heathrow Airport and it was definitely too far away from both Forest Gate and Greenwich, so Daryl and I decided to look for a flat in Hounslow. A blond lady with a red sports car from a local estate agent’s showed us a very nice one but it was too small for us. A couple of Indian guys took us to view an end-of-terrace, which was too far from Hounslow Central tube station… We had some 10 viewings and eventually we found a 2-bedroom flat, which we both liked. Two weeks later, we moved in and just a couple of days after, I had to fly to Rome for work.