While people say “Good Riddance, 2016” I drink hot choco outside a cafe in Italy and laugh nervously

L’uomo universale. This is one phrase I picked up from a book I received when I won a storytelling contest in Denmark a long time ago (it feels like a long time ago). It means a “complete man”; says the book: “a man of action was supposed to have a soul and be tender-hearted and have delicate, aesthetic sensibilities and to look handsome and to be able to write poetry and music and to paint.” Poetry and music and painting are fine skills, but these sound too tall an order somewhat – but what caught my attention is the need to look handsome in order to be a complete man. Interesting. With this in mind, I kept on looking at the Italians whenever I wander around the famous plaza in D’uomo. What can I say, many are dressed well. The guys are not exactly my type but they look fine, cultivated persons who’d call you signorita or bella to your heart’s content.

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Today my sister took a small break from her thesis writing and I from freelance editing, and we met for coffee and pastries in the freezing cold, while we complained about the difficulty of moving under layers of clothing. We talked for more than an hour outside a cafe while I was watching tourists, vendors, beggars, locals, and the shifting of light around. There was scaffolding of some sorts being built in the middle of the plaza – a free concert in New Year’s Eve, I heard. Then Micon excused herself from the conversation to finish her coding of texts. I told her I know coding! It’s part of our Social Sciences exam, and she looked surprised because she knows I’m coming from the Humanities. To sound cool, I said, in fact it’s my favorite part of the course, coding (actually it’s the easiest compared with lessons in multivariate analyses and other pains in the behind).

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At night, I try to watch Howl’s Moving Castle – my favorite Studio Ghibli film from master animator Hayao Miyazaki, together with my cousin Paola, but after an hour I felt tired and sleepy and sickly so I shut down my MacBook (it’s ok, Paola and I watched it the other day). But instead of sleeping, here I am, trying to pin down today’s happenings in this blog as I am afraid I easily lose memories. I don’t want this to happen. I want to remember scents, textures, touches, words, temperatures, shadows, light. I want to remember every day of 2016, for I think memories, too, make a man – a person – complete.

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This year flooded me with experiences from the very first day of January to this date. I resigned from two companies first in February then in August, held despedida parties and meals with different groups of friends and colleagues, and said too many goodbyes. In all honesty, despite what people think of 2016, the year has been kind to me. I’ve done many things for the first time in my life, and I should be grateful for all these.

For 2017, maybe I can try being l’uomo universale. Poetic, tender, bella. Hah, says my pimple.

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Photo by Marisse. Aarhus, December 2016.

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