THE PROPERTY LADDER
A PROPERTY WITHOUT THE LADDER
AND A JAR WITHOUT JAM
Berlin & Zurich, January-February 2007
Javier left Berlin to go back to Madrid and my dreams to move to the Spanish capital were over.
On the 10th of January, Olaf called me to let me know that he had got a great job in Zurich and he had moved to Switzerland already. “Switzerland…” I thought… “Oh my God, the Swiss! I have to call the Swiss!” The day after I called Christian and we arranged to meet in the evening for a beer in Hackescher Markt. Since then, Christian and I started dating regularly for a whole week. The second week I started realizing that he nodded to everything I said, I felt he lacked of personality and that I might have not been in love with him after all. When he cooked for me, I went to the gym to lose some weight. When he introduced me to his French friends, I decided it was time to chat with some other guy, to keep my German skills up to date. On the third week he told me that he had found a job in Zurich, but he was not sure if it was a good idea to move there, as it might have jeopardized our relationship. “Which relationship?” I thought. As I had not seen any relationship happening, I asked him to go for his new job and I thought that Zurich must have been a box in my brain, where I could keep all my exes. Christian left and with him the possibility to practice my lousy French, which I had forgot somewhere in Paris a few years before.
Paris December 2001-January 2002
Daryl had left me alone, New Year’s Eve was coming, I was scared to fly, I wanted to see my family and I did not want to be in London and miss the Euro Day in the Eurozone. These were my thoughts in December 2001. Traveling with the Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel, spending New Year’s Eve with my family in Paris and waiting all together for the new currency on 1st of January 2002 was the solution.
The morning of the 27th of December 2001, half asleep, I took the Piccadilly Line from Hounslow Central to Green Park, changed there for the Jubilee Line and when I heard: “Waterloo – please change here for the Bakerloo Line, the Northern Line – the Waterloo and City Line, mainline and European services”, my eyes opened again and I got off the train. In Waterloo Station, after the usual metal detector and the security checks, I took my Eurostar and in less than 3 hours I arrived at Gare Du Nord in La Ville Lumière. I got off the train, took the Métro Ligne 4 direction Porte d'Orléans to Châtelet and from there the Métro Ligne 1 direction Château de Vincennes to Gare de Lyon, where I got off and waited for my parents, who arrived with the TGV Milan-Paris one hour later. We rented a flat on the first floor of a nice building, not far from Place de la Bastille. The landlady, Madame Corinne, said she was going to Rio de Janeiro for a couple of weeks, she asked us to leave the keys in the postbox at the end of our stay and pointing to the door locker with her forefinger, she said: “ne touchez pas, s’il vous plaît. Ne touchez pas”.
At 5pm we decided to go out for a walk along the Champs-Élysées, we took the Métro to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile and we walked from there to Place de la Concorde. After having some rest in the square designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, we crossed the Bridge de la Concorde and we went to eat at a local restaurant on the Rive Gauche. At 11pm we were exhausted, we took a taxi back to Place de la Bastille and we reached the flat, dying for that deserved sleep. My father tried to open the door, but the key did not seem to work. My mother and I did not have any luck either. We had probably touched that door locker the French lady was talking about. I tried calling Madame Corinne unsuccessfully and at 1am, we gave up and I called “les pompiers”.
“Ce n’est pas urgent, ce n’est pas urgent, monsieur!” said the fireman and he refused to send someone out to unlock the door. In fact, it was an urgent matter: my mother had left her purse with the credit cards inside the flat as well. That night the three of us slept on the floor of the lobby and we woke up in the morning, when a French man walked next to us and said something incomprehensible. Luckily, at 7am, the neighbor of Madame Corinne came out and she asked us what had happened. I explained her that we were having some troubles with the door and she gave my father a ladder, which helped him to reach an unlocked window of the flat, get inside and open the door for us. That Friday we bought cello tape and we fixed the locker to the door.
On the 31st of December 2001, at midnight, we watched the fireworks from the Jardin du Trocadero and at 3am I managed to get my first 20-Euro banknote from a cash point machine somewhere around Place de la Bastille. Five days later, my parents traveled back to Milan and I returned to a rainy London.