La nebbia / The fog

This doesn’t belong in any category. Just in my heart—somehow. It’s about Italy, vaguely, but it’s mostly about life. My life. Or maybe anyone’s. Everyone’s. It’s a metaphor, then, about the confounding and beautiful nature of things, and how we exist inside them. And it has all come to mind now because now, now in Milan, the fog is rolling in.

This is the time of the year, with the cold and the gray and the moisture and the alterations in temperature, when the city quite unexpectedly turns into a black and white photo covered by tracing paper. It is the time of year when you walk out into the familiar only to find it transformed into the unfamiliar, and along with it, the familiar in yourself. It is bizarrely liberating not to be able to see what’s around you, where you came from, or where you might be going. I’m exaggerating of course, but sometimes it is in taking things to their narrative logical—or illogical—conclusion that the story becomes the most beautiful version of itself, that the symbol gains its greatest power.

This all came to mind last week when I was taking my early morning walk in Parco Sempione. The park which is beautiful even under normal circumstances, looked like a stage-set hovering under a strong veil of artificial mist. Vapor hung over bush and tree, skidding over the Park’s organic and inorganic surfaces like a spirit form. I could see people walking in the distance, mere black shapes outlined against a 30% cool gray. I wanted to enter the magic realm myself. I wanted, quite frankly, to disappear.

My husband told me once the most beautiful urban (Milanese) legend about a man who left his house on a foggy day, only to return after a day of work to a different house with a different wife, different children, a different loyal dog, and a different collection of books and records. A different life. He left in the morning one man, lost himself in the fog, and came back another.

I often feel that this is what happened in my life. I flew up into the fog at the Portland airport, leaving the ground and my very own life unseen beneath me. And I landed in Milan inside another fog. I left my house under a cloud and walked into a new house in a new cloud.

And that is where I am now. With my husband and my children and my faithful dog, all of whom were quite invisible to me just years ago. And for this surreal life-event, I am so thankful. And yet, and yet, there are times I want to go back. To embrace my old friends, all those people who inhabited that other space and time. But I do not know if you can go back into a fog you have already left. I just don’t know.

    Added a couple hours after the initial post:

I don’t know if what I’m saying makes any sense. It’s just this: life is an act of living the unknown. And sometimes we are reminded that that is precisely what’s happening, and giving ourselves over to it can be the most beautiful experience. Or so it seems to me.

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