The Visit(s) – The End

I can tell you about the Visit now that’s it’s over.

You see, I’ve been in the closet and now it’s time to come out, as they say.

I have a problem – I am a secret hypochondriac. Well, I would be a hypochondriac if I ever let it actually take root. I’ve found that most things just go away. And although my head gives a dreadful prognosis, I ignore that, telling my head that “you always think that”, and it does, indeed go away.

But I’m a little older now and being bombarded with “health scares” every day, in all newspapers, gets you thinking and then worrying and so on.

So, I decided to bite the bullet and, after about 20 years, go to a doctor. Not because there was anything wrong, exactly, just to check.

Of course, on the first Visit, the doctor, horrified that I hadn’t been near a doctor for 20 years and that I’d smoked for 45 years and I didn’t really keep fit nor worry about what I ate and drank, she ordered tests.

Oh yes, and my blood pressure was high. I explained that this was probably because I was visiting her, but she ignored that. So I had to go and see a cardiologist (or heart doctor, as I call her.)

So first the tests for blood, etc. That seemed OK and I accessed the results online and printed them. looking it up (which is always a mistake), I thought I probably had high cholesterol. But, at my age, it can be expected, I suppose.

Next was the heart doctor. She did the cardiograph-thing and listened to my heart and my breathing and stuff. She, too, was horrified by the fact that I had avoided doctors for so long – oh, yes, and by the fact that I had smoked so much for so long. My blood pressure was a little high, she said. My heart seemed fine but she wanted more tests. I felt she was determined to find something wrong. The appointments were booked but were months away and that wasn’t good enough. She wanted it all done before the summer holidays. My colleague re-booked everything for me.

Anyway, I had a “map”, a 24-hour blood pressure thing and an x-ray of my lungs. As I had looked at the blood tests and realised I had high cholesterol, I decided NOT to look at any more results. It’s better to be in the dark, was my logic.

My greatest fear was the x-ray. After all these years, I thought the x-ray would be the one.

So it was with some trepidation that I went back to see her today, 22nd July, with the results.

She went through everything. She said I was in the 5% group of humans who didn’t seem to be affected by smoking (or much else). My lungs were fine. My blood pressure was normal and, this morning, when she took the pressure again, was perfect. My heart was fine and my blood test was fine. There was, in short, nothing wrong with me.

She wants me to check my blood pressure once a month for about 6 months but, really, after that it’s OK.

So I had my colleague book a visit with my GP, just to close the loop and after Friday, I shall complete this post.

And, Friday, I went back to my GP. Of course, she looked through everything. And she noted that there was nothing really wrong. She said my cholesterol was a little high but nothing to worry about. Her advice was slightly different. She wanted me to check my blood pressure every week for six months. And she said I should reduce the number of cigarettes that I smoke. And that was that.

There was no “come back and see me in x months”.

Anyway, I don’t have to change my eating and drinking habits or anything much really, which is great and just what I needed to hear. Until, of course, the next time that I “think” something is seriously wrong with me. I’m hoping that my hypochondria will fade away for a year or two.

Anyway, guess whose advice I will be following? :-)

Oh, yes, and, obviously, the first thing I did when I left my GP? Well, to light up a cigarette, of course!

Luxuries and routines

I get up but, obviously, there’s no routine and, for me, a routine in the morning is imperative as I cannot “think” but do everything automatically, without thinking.

There is no coffee. Or tea. This is not a good thing.

There is no hot water.

I go to the bathroom (my bathroom, obviously) and wash in cold water and shave with cold water. This is not ideal but tolerable. At least I have a mirror and all my stuff. I sit, the wrong way round, on the toilet to shave, with the mirror propped up on the cistern.

The luxury is dressing since I now have my “studio” which doubles as my dressing room. No longer do I have to get my clothes ready the night before. However, whilst this is a real luxury, it’s also difficult. First, I have to find the things I need and second, I have to make choices. Choices at 6 a.m. are NOT ideal. Still, my wardrobe is “organised” (by me) in such a way that I quickly find what I need without too much thought.

But I miss my mug of coffee.

I sit at the computer with some milk. This is better than nothing. But I am aware that I must leave earlier. First because I must walk further to get my car and second because I must have a cappuccino at a bar. A cappuccino is NOT a mug. It’s not even half a mug. Maybe, tomorrow, I have two?

We have opened all the boxes possible. The remaining boxes are full of either a) kitchen stuff or b) books and other things that require more cupboard space (which we bought on Saturday and, with any luck, will be fixed to the wall on Tuesday.)

Ornaments and objets d’arte and most pictures are still to be put in place. But that can be done once all boxes have been opened. F will decide everything.

The place is huge. And I mean H.U.G.E! Once the boxes have been unpacked, we shall have so much room.

The dogs seem happy enough but I sense they are a bit disconcerted by it. Dino has taken to coming onto the bed during the night and sleeping there, at our feet (or, on top of our feet) as if he needs that reassurance. He has a problem getting down since the floors in this place are slippery for him. F often gets up and lifts him down. I expect he’ll be getting used to that, then :-) Maybe we can buy something they use on yachts to make the wooden floors less slippery?

Of course, by the time the week is out, we’ll have hot water. And the sofas back. And the dining chairs. And I’ll have a routine. And it’ll start to feel like a home. The kitchen is another thing ………

Here we go

Well, here we are. The “packing” day.

“We’ll be there at 7.30 a.m.,” they said. It’s 8.10. Siamo in Italia.

Every few seconds I think of something else that I don’t want them to pack. Things we’ll need tonight or tomorrow morning. I have certain “places” (my briefcase, top of the cooker, etc.) which won’t be packed.

I feel a little stressed but only because of past experience. They move so fast and it’s hard to stop them packing stuff. Before you know it, it’s packed. But I shall try to keep up.

Frankie has the dogs out. It’s better. Anyway, they go to the “hairdressers” today to be clean for the new flat.

Now the men have arrived ……

We’re on the final countdown ……

The curtains, poles and other things are down and the curtains being washed.

The flat is without the three-piece suite, the rugs (which went for cleaning this morning), the dining chairs, etc.
The top of the fridge is washed, the back of the cooker and the back of the washing machine – all cleaned.

The flat seems quite empty now.

And, for the first time in my life, I’m quite sad to be leaving. I loved this flat. I still love this flat. I chose it for me and the dogs and it was pretty damned near perfect, for all its flaws.

I’ve had many happy times here and my life has changed so much since I first came here, frightened in case I was gong to be on my own. I know that some would say that you should be happy to be alone and strong enough in yourself to be so. But, you know? That just isn’t me. I don’t need someone to complete me just to share things with. I need someone to love and who loves me back. I need someone to care for and laugh with. If you’re happy being on your own, that’s OK and good for you. But, it’s not for me.

But, this flat was special and all mine with no compromises for other people. And if it had been one room bigger, I probably wouldn’t have moved.

But, on Wednesday the men come and pack everything and on Thursday, we move. And the new flat is lovely and more spacious and in a lovely street with trees and stuff and still in this neighbourhood, which I like a lot.

So, these are the last few days. But then something new starts and the new place is taking shape. The Romy Schneider wall is happening today and then, on Tuesday, the remaining cupboards will be fixed to the wall.

Oh yes, and for the first weekend we’ll have no hot water. And, possibly for about a week, no kitchen. But, hey, such is life! on the bright side, it’s very, very hot now, so maybe cool showers will be better :-)

Constraints and Claustrophobia

Constraints and Claustrophobia

It’s nearly 3.30 and I’m not sleeping again.

It’s not that I’m not sleeping because of anything in particular. I was asleep and sleeping well. But, then I needed to go to the bathroom and, I guess, I was sleeping so well that I needed a nightmare to wake myself up. I really hate that. The problem with your head giving you a nightmare to wake up is that the nightmare stays with you. This wasn’t such a bad nightmare. More odd, really. So I got back into bed and F seemed to have moved so that he was diagonally across the bed meaning that my feet had no room. And I’d tucked the sheet in well so that my feet have about two inches of space. Which is obviously not enough. So, I’m constricted. And this nightmare (or the end of it) won’t leave me and I can’t figure it all out for it makes no sense and it’s kind of hot so my arm is out of the bed and then I hear the faint buzz of a mosquito so I bring my arm and shoulder inside the covers even if it’s too hot and that’s when I realise that I have that itch on the bit of my hand that forms the sort of web between my thumb and the forefinger which, of course, means that the bastard mosquito I heard flying was actually flying away, stomach full of blood, to find some water and give birth to more bastard mosquitoes.

And, then I realised that the whole thing was all about constriction and claustrophobia – the nightmare, that is – and that I didn’t feel good about that but that it was also unreasonable (of me) since no one was truly “forcing me” and yet I felt this way. F being diagonally across the bed so that I had no room to move my legs was just the final straw. And, so as not to wake F because he hasn’t been sleeping well recently – and far worse than me – I got up and decided to write about my dream and revelation.

So, first to the nightmare.

We have the flat and yet, at various points in the dream it is and isn’t ours. This flat is big and comfortable. There is even a kind of sub-flat. Anyway, someone comes to stay. As a result, we shall not sleep in our bed but in the spare room – this kind of sub-flat. Except, like the cellar for the new flat, for some reason, I’ve never been there. F tells me, by the way, that the cellar s very big – but I don’t see it – I mean I don’t really believe it to be big. We had one, V and I, and there was just about enough room to store stuff. There again, maybe that IS big for cellars here and so F, thinking of other cellars, may be right. Anyway, I digress. So, I’ve never been to this part of the flat. Our flat is in an old building (much older than the real flat but that’s how dreams work, isn’t it?) and we have stairs. So we go up the stairs and instead of turning left to our bedroom, F, leading the way, turns right.

We go along a rather dingy corridor and through a door into a lounge. The lounge is small. I mean quite tiny. And yet there is a sofa there and cabinets and the furniture is old but not like mine, more Victorian in style, big and brooding and elaborate for no good reason. It could, in fact, be old Italian furniture, excessive amounts of wood and imposing and curvy and just too much. It fills the walls and seems to bear down on you. There is a rug covering the floor and heavy curtains and yet no window. It gave a sense of wanting to smother you. Or it could have been like a dolls house. Where the furniture is just too big for the room and everything is out of proportion.

But we don’t stay here as we’re off to bed. I say to F, “Is this OK for you?” to which he replies that yes, it’s OK, after all it’s just for a night. But then it seems that this is his place or the new place. For he’s been here before. He knows where he’s going. It’s as if it was his flat. So, we enter the lounge and immediately opposite is another door. It takes about one stride to reach the other door, the lounge opening out to the right as we pass. I say open out when, in fact, there are just the furnishings in a room that’s a stride wide.

We then start to ascend some stairs. The walls are smooth, white plastered walls. But the stairs are narrow, just wider than my shoulders and the impression (although not the fact) is that they get narrower. F leads the way although at one point F changes to be my youngest brother, T, and then back to F. He soon disappears for the stairs curve as they seem to get narrower. I turn to try and convince Piero to come. He has his doubts. The reason is the stairs themselves. They are wooden but with no riser. Like step ladders but with some intricate wooden structure holding up the next stair. Still, Piero doesn’t really like it. I don’t blame him, I’m beginning to dislike it too. The stairs are lit by something but not by windows and not by a light, yet they seem bright but there are shadows (which makes no sense at all).

I hear F above. He has reached the bedroom and I hear him go down the stairs (short stairs) to the bathroom. I hear him in the bathroom. I carry on up the curve of the stairs. It has only been a few seconds but, as I reach the bedroom, I see F is out of the bathroom. I query with him, “Have you finished?” “Yes,” he replies. And that doesn’t make sense at all. he hasn’t been there for long enough. It’s been about 2 minutes since we started up the stairs and yet he’s got up here and been to the bathroom and is already getting into bed.

And then I notice the bedroom. It is round. The roof is like the inside of the old Chinese hats – the ones they used to use in the paddy fields. It is simple white plaster. The windows are open but they are not really windows but grills, intricate, white-painted, metal grills with glass beyond. The glass is open. The reason for the grills is simple. The room, aside from being round and having the inversely-pointed ceiling is, at most, two feet high and the “windows” are the whole wall, i.e. from the floor to the ceiling. They look pretty but ……

F is not standing. He can’t. At it’s highest point, the room is, maybe, four and a half feet high. The bedding is arranged around the walls (the bits where the windows aren’t). His is one “side” and mine the other. The window is in between. I look for the stairs down to the bathroom but can’t see them. The “doorway” into the bedroom has become less of a doorway and more of a hatch. I will have to pull myself into the bedroom. The width of the doorway is such that it will be a tight squeeze. The only way out is back through this doorway. I don’t actually want to go in any more. I feel claustrophobic just looking into this room. I don’t think I can do it. Before my eyes, it seems to get even smaller. It seems like we have climbed inside a small tower yet that cannot be. And yet it is. I really don’t think I can sleep here and telling F is going to be difficult.

I wake up.

So, there you are. My feeling of claustrophobia and constraining.

I’m sure it will pass.

I haven’t really explained the brother thing that appeared and disappeared. But I can’t right now. Trust me, it’s the same feeling of constraint and claustrophobia and, for different reasons, they can be the same person – which was why they were the same person for a second.

Then, of course, getting back into bed and having my legs trapped in that corner of the bed, made the constraint real for a moment and clarified the dream.

And now it’s a quarter past four and I get up in less than two hours. Once again, for a different reason each time, I shall start the week feeling like I need a weekend to recover. Bugger!

p.s. I may edit this tomorrow if it doesn’t really make sense.

What to do?

The problem is that i really want to talk it through with someone.

That someone is not F, for F can’t see past the concept in his head.

Best Mate is far away. It needs a non-Italian to understand. It needs someone close, who knows me well enough but also distant for the “situation”.

What to do? what to do?

The people I could talk to are Italian. I don’t have any anglo-saxon-type mates.

It’s just to talk it through, really. Obviously, once I do that, I’ll make my decisions, regardless of what anyone thinks :-)

I would do it here – but here is a bit dangerous. So, not here.

It kept me awake last night. It’s going to keep me awake until I figure out what my decision is. It’s a bugger, really.

In the meantime, the Visits continue but, maybe, hopefully, are nearing an end.

The Studio – a bone of contention?

I suppose there had to be something, didn’t there?

My “studio”. What would be the second bedroom.

Against the wall were the bed would go there are two electric sockets. On the other side, in the corner, is one socket and the television aerial point. I know exactly how I want it laid out. F has other ideas. A couple of days ago, we were in the new flat (he has put away all his CDs and there’s a whole section for my few CDs and DVDs) and he asked me how I wanted the room to be organised.

Specifically, where I wanted my wardrobe put.

I told him. He wanted it on the opposite wall.

I explained why I wanted it like I had said. He explained why he wanted it the way he did. But, as usual, he wasn’t listening to me. He didn’t understand that, although I may have to run the wire from the PC to the television in the next room, above and round the window, it would be a much more pleasant room to be in and in which to do lessons, etc..

Eventually, tired of the fact that he wasn’t listening, I just said, OK, you do it as you want.

Last night, I mentioned that I really wanted it the way I had said.

We’ll see if I get what I want or not. But it is much better my way, even if it is more awkward in terms of cabling, etc.

Perk yourself up!

I remember, probably some 10 or 11 years ago (Gillie, if you’re still “popping” by, you’ll remember it too), going down to a friend’s house for her birthday party (mid-July).

The plan was to have a barbeque “party” in her newly done garden.

Sounds good, right?

Well, yes, except this was in England. We travelled down for the weekend. It was going to be great. A summer barbeque, no driving so plenty of drinking and relaxing in the warmth of summer.

But, as I said, this was England. Summer can be lovely but you never know exactly when that “summer” will show its face. And when it does, it’s no always for long. A couple of weeks is pretty good. More than that is strange/climate change/immigrants/European directives or something.

Anyway, we travelled down on the Friday night. And it was cold. and by cold, I mean something like 12°C.

Obviously, the barbeque was modified and the food was cooked in the house.

The reason I mention this is because of last night. But let’s go back to a couple of nights ago, when F and I were heading off to our usual bar. I remarked to F that it was “more like September.” You know, the days can be as hot as hell but the evenings can be a bit chilly and the mornings more so.

He agreed. “It’s not normal,” was his reply.

Today, after the chilly start this morning, just after lunch, I went out for a cigarette and, standing in the sun, it was almost too hot. I say almost – but not really for me. Probably less than 30°. But, last night. Last night was a different thing. In the middle of the night, F awoke saying he was cold. Indeed, I was cold too and struggling to sleep. He put on layers of clothes and I got up and, out of the wardrobe, got the thin duvet/bed cover. Yes, it was THAT cold.

According to “my” weather forecast, it may have got down to about 16°. In any event, I’ve really had enough of it. One day hot and beautiful sunshine, the next cold and cloudy or long showers. Just the other day, a river in Milan burst its banks and flooded some Northern part of the city!

As I say to all the people who will listen, I didn’t come here to be subjected to an English summer – for that is how it feels.

On the other hand, it’s ideal weather for packing and sorting and moving.

But, on 1st August, we go to Carrara for our holiday. It’d better be perking itself up real soon and at least by the end of July!

Milan is number one!

Yes, it’s true. My favourite city has hit top spot by being first amongst all cities in Europe and North America.

Pretty good, eh?

Well, I’ve also thought it was #1 – but not for this.

To be honest, I expected to see Milan somewhere in the list of the top 25. Maybe 10, I thought?. Or maybe it wouldn’t be there at all, in which case, I would be writing about how it was impossible that Milan was NOT in the top 25 at, say, something like, 10 or 15.

But, no! We get #1 spot as the which, to be honest, I am surprised about.

But, on the bright side, at least we made number one for something! We even beat Rome!!