-Is everything alright? –
-Yes, yes, thank you –
-Well, it looks more like the opposite, show me. May I? –
He gently lays his index finger on the boy’s cheek and collects a tear that was running down the right side of his nose. Then he observes his index finger and first, naively, looks at the little drop, after that he shows it at the young man. – Do you want to talk about it? –
Luca laughs: – Come on, do you really think that someone like me cries? It must be my allergy or something like this, I do not know. –
-Yes sure, the famous allergy which occurs in the center of Turin, in a café on Verdi Street. It seems obvious to me. Well, I guess I will get you another beer. Or am I wrong about that too? –
-Ah, I see you got the idea. Bring me a pint –
How embarrassing! Could he be whining in front of a barman almost his age? Nonsense.
Yet he could not handle this pain. And yes, it was a sort of pain which was crushing his belly and seemed to go all the way up his ribs to his throat and more, he could not handle his sobs. The waiter brings him beer. He does not even look him in the eyes, does not thank him, he really tries to understand what is happening to his body.
He grumbles, he is exasperated and much of the foam is falling over the edges of the beer stain. He feels naked, completely exposed to any kind of fragility. His chin does not stop shaking, he cannot control his movements, he takes his eyes off while looking out of the window of the café and he feels alone, extremely alone. But then he starts smiling. He does not immediately realize the reason why, all of a sudden, his teeth stopped clenching his lips trying to hold back the trembling of his chin. Then he burst into tears, being unable to control his feelings. Silent tears, made of sobs, shoulders that rise and then fall, the sound of his labored breathing, eyes filled with tears and tears that never seem to end. The waiter turns up the volume on the radio. Only then Luca does understand why he was no longer able to control himself. He looks up, dries his tears and looks for the barman. They both smile. Luca laughs at his tears: – Hey you know, that allergy…they burst out laughing. But Luca immediately becomes serious: – How did you know that? How did you know that Pino Daniele is my favorite singer? -.
The boy finishes cleaning the terrace, then leaves his apron on a shelf and sits down next to Luca. – How did I understand that you are a Neapolitan who suffers from being away from home? First of all, because you have never drunk coffee here. –
They burst out laughing again. – And jamm (Neapolitan expression), it’s undrinkable…-
– Not only because of your accent, but also because of your empty look. A look that was used to the sea, to the heat, the look of a boy who has done everything to come here to study and who now feels lost and alone, despite all the friendships you have made. And then because it is Sunday, the day of nostalgia for us. –
– Us? Do you come from Naples too? –
– Yes, Turin welcomed me some years ago. I feel good here, I love this city, I have found love here. But you see, Sunday morning is always a moment of nostalgia for me. It is no coincidence that Nosto means return, while Algos means pain: nostalgia is the pain of not being able to return home. –
Luca is perplexed, he would certainly never have imagined spending his Sunday with a Neapolitan waiter who, even though he has almost completely lost his accent, gives him Greek lessons.
– Sorry for asking, but why don’t you go back to Naples? Why don’t you go back home? The barman gets up, draws a beer and sits down next to Luca. He takes out his wallet and shows him the photo of Rebecca, his wife.-
-Because home is not a place. Home is a way of feeling, a shelter from the chaos of everyday life, it is a refuge. I will not go back to Naples because, as you can see, my home is here, in this little photo that I keep among my tickets. Naples is not my home, but it is a state of mind. Here is my only advice, find someone who makes you feel at home even in a place where they do not know how to make coffee. –
Is it worth it?
– In my opinion, your life is worth it.