In my headphones Dave Grohl’s hoarse voice, the music, some lines:
come on, take my side, I’m fighting for you, I’m fighting for you!! / pleased to meet you, take my hand / there is no way back from here, but I don’t care / no way back from here, yeah!
In my eyes the automatic door of the railway station that opens without any effort as a curtain on a scenery made of obsessive rhythms and standard people behind a dirty glass, who wish for being anywhere but there, hearing strangers’ voices asking for “a return ticket to Milan”, or, when their imagination gets tipsy, “a season ticket to Casbeno”. And to have to answer “Do you have 10 cents?”, or to remind the absent-minded elderly or the inexperienced kid to hand the customer card over, because “I can’t give you the season ticket without it”. No “thanks”, “see you”, “please” or Cenozoic kidness like these.
Grohl, the old good Grohl, here he is, he’s asking for a return ticket to Milan, adding 10 cents for the nervous joy of the ticket clerk. Or it’s me? It’s me that, after putting that little white, black and green paper square in my jeans back pocket, raises its look and meets his? No, not Dave’s one. Dave has already fled away from my acoustic nerve. A homeless’ gaze.
Or, better, leftovers of a man’s gaze. Shady eyes, dark hair, thick beard. A wrinkled and faded puppet, with torn seams, hanging threads everywhere, black stains that penetrate far beyond its light t-shirt. A puppet that once was round and chubby, with vivid pink painted cheeks, a puppet that has been pulled at his extremities, chopped into pieces by events or people that had to take care of it, washed and spin-dried lots of times to erase the slight imperfections on its clothes and body.
He gets near bashfully, with a kind attitude. “Excuse me, can I ask you a penny? I’ve filled the bottle at the bathroom’s washbasin!”, he continues, showing a bottle in the other hand, “I’m on the streets, please!”. Which events could have forced a person with a so sweet glance to bend his dignity and pride to the ground? That “I’m on the streets” lights a powerful curiosity in me, a harmless, not morbid curiosity, a curiosity that wants to help, to listen, but can’t find the guts to go out of my lips, moulded in the shape of “what’s happened?” or “why?”. Trivial and stupid, my thought runs down in my rucksack and notices that I’ve no money left, having spent those last 4,10 euros for that ticket.
“I’m sorry, I had just the money for the ticket, I’ve nothing left…”. How much regret and shame in that moment! I was ashamed of myself…
“Oh… you bought a ticket, and then you have to take the ticket to come back, too… yes, there’s always a way back…”, he says, staring at me, and then, on that last, extreme sentence, scanning beyond the automatic door, or, maybe, it would be better to say beyond the void space in which people leave him in his despair. He seems mesmerised by that void. For a couple of seconds he stands still, lost in his thoughts. Perhaps he is terrified by the shocking meaning of that sentence too, as if another entity inside him has pronounced it with a so evident tone, like those truths we hear, repeated to us since we were children, which we take for granted for so many years that, as we realize their authentic meaning, we are dumbfounded, as the prehistoric men in front of the power of the finally dominated flames. How many times I’ve heard about Nietzsche’s “eternal return”; how many times, reading The Lord Of The Rings, as Frodo comes back to the Shire, I’ve shared with him the anguish born from “nothing will ever be like before”… yet, just in that moment, in that ticket office, I have understood the authentic meaning of RETURN. I could dominate the power of the flames of despair, distress and sorrow that surround the people who lost anything and who now burn in loneliness and bewilderment.
“I’m so sorry, please, excuse me”, a pityful effort to apologise and console him, even if the consolation this sentence can give, after being used by all mankind with ipocrisy and falseness at least once in a lifetime, is really ridiculous.
He wakes up from his thoughts storm, he looks at me and smiles, “not at all, don’t worry!”. Another poisoned arrow, arrow of purity and clearness in my heart that now would bury itself together with the rest of my body. “Thanks, hi!”, he exclaims, waving his hand. I return the gesture, another time having no courage enough to link my brain to my mouth to pronounce seven damned words, “Can I help you in another way?”. His feet, instead, obey with a listless “yes, Sir!” to his nervous system and carry him out of the ticket office, disappearing beyond the glasses of the automatic door, a door that allows the passage from a space to another one, door of the soul that is always and irretrievably sealed to our neighbour, to this man’s leftovers.
copyright 2006 Eleonora Pizzi
Song quoted from “No Way Back” by Foo Fighters, 2005, from the album “In Your Honor”, RCA records.