Photograms of Goodbyes

This is officially the first post I write on my blog. I decided to start from something very personal. This topic is constantly floating in my brain. I wanted to give you a glimpse of some of my goodbye moments. Everyone has some. They are all so personal and delicate. Some are full of rage, others of love, sadness, and euphoria. Whatever yours might be, I hope that they are indelible in your mind as they are in mine.

 

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And so, the doors of the Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa directed to Milano Centrale close once again. Detaching itself from the enormous rail bumpers, the train starts moving to exit Firenze S. Maria Novella’s station. The soundtrack of my loneliness starts playing again creeping in the background of my headphones. I stare at people’s faces. They stare back. I wonder what their soundtrack sounds like. Are they leaving someone behind? What are they thinking about? In front of me, there’s always someone that contemplates my tears falling from underneath the dark Ray-Ban that my sister gave me a few years ago. These were her glasses. I liked them, and so, during the ‘goodbye moment’ of 2013, in front of the same Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa she passed them to me.

Each ‘goodbye moment’ feels the same one. Each year, I step into my dad’s Volvo V70. I smell the leather that gently wraps my body. I put my hands on my father’s, and I look at my house, my grandparents in tears, the window of my childhood bedroom, the wind chime I bought in a small village near Pittsburgh ten years ago hanging from the front terrace of the house. It used to play the music for my readings every afternoon. Now it plays the music of my departure. My grandparents start to become smaller and smaller, the wind chime disappears from my vision and suddenly, all I am left with is the road. The same photogram survives every single year through time and space. It is the same and yet, it feels different. The words whispered in my ear by my grandma change every year. One time she says “ti voglio bene” another “ti aspettiamo qua”. Sometimes she even says “fai ammodino” the English version of “take care” (in Italian it sounds sweeter and more intimate for some reason). The smell of my grandpa’s checkered button-down-shirt remains the same. I hug him for a few minutes every time. I observe at his face and make a note in my mind of the way he looks like. I’ll use this image when he’s not with me. These are the details that embellish the repeated monotonous stenciled image of my departure. It is the same photogram, but it seems new every single time.

The moment before the doors close separating me and my family are the worst. The script is always the same. I am the audience of my family’s pain as they are of mine. We stare at each other waiting for the whistle to signal that train is about to leave the station. At that moment, I rush to take as many mental pictures I can of my mom, my sister, and my dad. Until the zoom of my eyes is not strong enough to reach them anymore.

Back in front of the staring-passenger, I close my eyes and flip through the instantaneous photos I took. I am thankful for the Polaroid stored in my brain.

Almost sixteen hours later, I am in front of the immigration officer asking me to stare at another camera. This proves my entrance in the United States’ soil. After the four clicking sounds of the stamps announcing my freedom, I am good to go. I am home again. This is the instant my departure’s photogram goes back to the box labeled “departures”. It will remain shut ….until next time!

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