giovedì 31 luglio 2008

The grass is (not) always greener

Let’s get something clear. I know I moan. I know I constantly berate Milan and all that it has (n’t) to offer. I know I constantly go on about how I would rather be on a beach in Sardinia than stuck in traffic on the Tangenziale Est. Who wouldn’t?
As I sit in my office looking out over Lambrate station, surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings, with the constant hum of the ring road and the occasional roar of a plane taking off from Linate airport, it is easy to allow the smog on the horizon to cloud my vision of why I came to this area, and why I stay.
Firstly, I am well aware that I could never do the job I do if I wasn’t here in Milan. Whilst it has its drawbacks, I do really like the fact that I work for a multi-national organisation which is pretty much a pioneer in its sector. I have a reasonable level of responsibility, get on really well with my colleagues (some have become my closest friends), and take home a salary / bonus / car which I could never achieve elsewhere in Italy. I know that the first thing that I would miss should I go back to the quiet life would be intellectual conversation, or even just the banter in which you can engage as you drink your morning coffee, with like-minded individuals of similar ages and backgrounds. I also LOVE that we have a little group of mother-tongue English speakers so when the Italians get too…well, Italian…. we can reminisce about people and places far away!
The new apartment is (as I’ve said before) right at the foot of the hills which begin with the Oltrepò Pavese (miles and miles of sprawling vineyards and hilltops farms), and continue down towards the Apennines of Emilia Romagna. The Ligurian coast is one hour away (it’s not Porto Cervo but it’s not Birmingham either), as are the lakes to the north of Milan. Another important factor is infrastructure, healthcare, and all of those little things which seem to become more important as time goes by (even at the age of 28!). Here you can be (reasonably) sure of high standards of medical care, and what the hell – Switzerland is only an short car ride away if necessary! My USB internet connection works absolutely everywhere, and there is a proliferation of cultural and artistic events on offer, not to mention a year-round choice of places to eat, drink and be generally merry.
These are all little things which I remember longing for when I lived full-time in Sardinia (particularly in the depths of winter when not even the occasional warm sunny day could make up for the complete lack of ANYTHING to do other than appreciate the weather….)

So, all things considered, I’m almost tempted to say that it’s not so bad. I have a place across the water which I can hop across to as and when, and which I appreciate so much more for the fact that going there is now a novelty and not the norm. In the meantime I’ll be making the most of my current location, enjoying the friendships and opportunities I have here, and later in the year- with a little bit of luck and some careful preparation – will be unveiling a plan which might just turn things around for good….

I said in my last post that something needed to change. It was probably my attitude.

mercoledì 23 luglio 2008

A heavy heart

My recent absence from the blogging scene can be explained by the picture. I can barely describe the heart-in-the-boots feeling which came over me as the plane hit the tarmac at Malpensa airport, and which I haven't yet been able to shake off in the two days that I have been back in the office... Having lived in Sardinia for 3 years, whenever I go back I feel like I am going home. The return to Milan makes me feel like a prisoner being sent back to the slammer after a week of parole.

Something needs to change.