5 down, one more to go.
Good Old Rob. If it wasn't for my Irish flat mate telling me something about my first 5 years in London, I wouldn't have even noticed that on the 12th of September 2006 I completed 5 years in London (and started this last, long, sixth).
5 years. That's a lot of time if you're almost 30. ("Almost 30"... sounds great)
Drinking the usual pint of Guinness in the pub and talking with him about the past, the present and the future has been easier this time.
2005 was a difficult year for both of us for many different reasons (just one: while I was away in Atlanta the ceiling in the flat collapsed with Rob just few feet away...) and 2006 has been by far better: after all Italy won the World Cup.
So, in the name of good old times, I spent some of my valuable time scrolling through pictures taken in the past years. It's a shame that I started my personal website only in 2004. I used the space before to put letters that I wrote to friends or random pictures, but I started organizing things only 3 years ago.
While my memories of the past (fast) 3 years have been easy to refresh, everything before 2004 is fading very fast. Looking at old pictures, I realized how many people I met or let them stayed at my place without even saying them again.
Friends, friends of friends, girls, girlfriends of friends, lesbians. Even a dog once.
No cats or warthogs yet though I would like to have one (warthog).
Just recently I met a Polish/Austrian girl who I haven't seen since 1995. 11 years ago folks.
She changed name and surname to hide the polish roots (it seems that working in Wien with a difficult name to pronounce is quite difficult), but I still called her by the old name.
She was in London on holiday, and through some other polish/German friend she decided to meet me again.
She simply asked "Hey Olaf, what happened in your life in the past 11 years?"
Well, after high school I went to university, and then I dropped. I joined the army, and left it. I studied as a screenwriter (for what it's worth) in the evenings, worked as a barman in the nights and work throughout the last internet bubble in Milan in an office during daylight.
I moved to London.
There (in any particular order): I ran marathons, rowed on the Thames, got some belts in kickboxing and played football (and finally won the league after so many attempts).
I directed a western, I traveled to US and ate at Hooters and lost all my money in Las Vegas.
I saw South Africa, and many parts of Europe. I broke my fucking leg. I fixed my flat. I cut my arm in a crazy night. Ola. I made people cry, but I never cried myself. I burnt me head after too many experimets with my hair.
I met Lindsey.
I won 5 times 10 pounds at the lottery. My cat died. The ceiling in my flat collapsed. I drunk tequila, jack Daniels and, some weird strawberries beers in Belgium.
I was broke. I was never rich, but I survived, so far. My mum left my dad and my sister moved to Brazil, and Italy won the World cup.
On a great day almost 3 years ago I kicked a can straight in the bin from a sideral distance, but nobody was around me to acknowledge the miracle, and it made me realize how important is to have witnesses for the best things that happen in your life.
There we go. 11 years in a long paragraph. And half of them in this place.
In a city like London usually everyone you meet is in the same situation: far away from home, in a foreign country (and this applies even if you're from Manchester), in a place that runs so fast that is difficult to find the motivations to keep going and be positive.
Plus, finding an accommodation at the right price is just a waste of time. Everyone complains, and every time I read some interview to any random a, b or c-list celebrity quoting London as a fantastic, multicultural (yeah right), great and sexy place to live I just laugh my socks (and football shoes) off.
London is an interesting place to live, no doubt about that. Many don't have families here, and they miss their homeland, and usually after 6-12 months give up and go back home. Everyone else moans buy stays. London is a difficult place to fully enjoy and understand, but gives you (and has definitely given me) chances and opportunity than no other place in the whole Europe would.
And you can always brag about living here when you visit the rest of the world!
Back home, if I meet someone and he/she asks me where I live, I always say nonchanlantly: you know, up north, in London, England. They are always impressed.
I stayed now for 5 years, and probably this will be my last year. I won't go back home (Italy, Poland, Robonia or wherever people think I'm from) but I'll move somewhere else (South Africa probably)
I'll miss the friends I made here, the girls I met (I always distinguish between "friends" and "girls".. they are just not part of the same subset), my football team and the random people I had fight with. Good old times.
And for one last nostalgic trip, in this gallery you can find random pictures taken from the period before the start of this site (from September 2001 to February 2004 basically).
At this link you can find the sitemap with everything that happened from March 2004 on and all the (public) galleries.
Yes, there are many "private" galleries that you can't see. You know, embarrassing stuff (for me or others) that would ruin reputations...
At least if I need to refresh my memories about those times, now I have a place to look into. I'm getting older... (but I still look great!)