I’m Neapolitan

I’m Neapolitan.

I’m chatty, open-minded, honest, caring, appreciating. I’m Neapolitan.

At least so I’ve been told. Too many times. It’s some sort of etiquette people have placed on me that’s probably supposed to define me, my personality, to say who I am just by highlighting this feature: being Neapolitan. Apparently, that explains everything.

This was no choice of mine, I just happened to be born there, in one of the most beautiful and dangerous (so people say) cities in the world; a city where history lays in every street, alley, corner, smell, thought. Yeah, it’s so strong it embraces you, and never lets go. It grows on you blooming some affection, wish, memory — smile. Now do smile, this is what Neapolitans do despite the tragic circumstances. Indeed, drama there is everyday business, it’s how deep people feel, how engaged they are when they either love or hate somebody or something. It’s a never-ending passion that nobody can control, that makes you speak louder and louder and louder because the louder you are the better you express how you feel. Silly, right? Very! Yet, it’s our proper cup of coffee — the strongest you may ever drink. It goes straight into your nerves, awakens thoughts, placates the spirit. However, that spirit is never going to be quiet, not if you’re Neapolitan. That spirit functions continuously and triggers genuine creativity, whether it applies to art, music, food, or dodgy stuff, what us Neapolitans are best known for. Great endeavours are the result, great stories; great sufferings. Believe it or not, this is what Neapolitans do: they suffer. They parade through shame, bad looks, prejudice, through the burdens of having too much to offer and too little to ask in return. And all is veiled with pride, with a sense of belonging we hold on to — to feel just a little better, just a little stronger. To go through another day, and another day. And even when the day is done, we’re not done doing. We’re not done wondering what tomorrow is going to be like. We’re still trying to ease our head on the pillow, close our eyes and accept…that we’re Neapolitans. That tomorrow the sun will shine sharply, that we won’t be finding any parking spot, that we’ll be dealing with chaos, the chaos we have created, the chaos that makes us stand out (or stand down) among other populations, cities — realities.

Because the reality is that we’re never going to be treated as individuals, as single human beings, as people; we’re not to be treated any differently but we actually are: as we are Neapolitans.

So I’ve been told. Too many, one too many times. That sort of etiquette defines me, my personality, it says who I am and apparently that explains why I’m chatty, open-minded, honest, caring, appreciating. And why I’m to be treated differently.

Yeah, I am.

I’m Neapolitan after all.



Jim
The Britalian Post



Homeland

London, May 2016. 

The hottest spring ever–up to 32 degrees. The sun was literally setting the city on fire. And the people.

I had just moved to a new house in North London: a two-room semi-studio apartment, narrow and long. Practically an ex-garage. Yay! I had finally my own place and indeed couldn’t wait to decorate it with lights, posters, furniture and random stuff, my handprint to make it look like myself. Well, in fact, I hoped it possibly didn’t.. unless I could see a better picture of me at the time, which was obviously not going to happen. 

The huge empty white wall in front of the couch inspired me to fill it with something I knew would make most of my nights: a giant TV. My parents – God bless them from his heights – bought me a 46-inch TV as a present for the new house. They knew I’d love it! So step by step, the house began to look more like MY place, my refuge, my home base, my home. That’s the kind of feeling one needs to feel when living abroad, far from family, friends, and all the things you’ve always known better.

Next step was – of course – celebration. It seems to be a matter of good luck when you do. Therefore I invited over my colleagues – my teammates, my crew, my friends, all in one; the people I would enjoy celebrating it with. 6 different countries, 6 different languages, 7 people (including me): Maximiliano and Maria (Catalonia and Spain), Lazaros (a German-born Austrian-raised Greek guy), Beatriz (Brazil), Colin (France), Mary-Jean (England), myself (well…Italy). Oh yeah, that was a melting pot!

We came all the way east from Uxbridge, which seemed to be a whole different world: a one hour and a half journey plus a 25 min walk under the boiling afternoon sun. The guys might have wanted me dead for that.

The night was super fun – unfortunately, Mary-Jean couldn’t make it. 

We ordered some extra large super fat pizzas from Pizza Hut – jeez I should be ashamed for that! – and beer after beer made us happy through the night. Tequila shots went along with the background music played on Spotify via my brand new TV (yes, I’m very proud of my TV). 

And while our chats and talks were deepening the strong friendship we already had, I told them about the Lithuanian girl I was dating and the invitation to the barbecue at her friends’ house I received. 

Now to set you straight, I don’t really feel comfortable with staying among people that I don’t know at all, so I had declined the sweet offer in the first place.

The guys though had a different opinion. They started with their “you’re so complicated”, “take it easy”, “do you actually wish to go?”, and stuff, to make up my mind. Lazaros was, in fact, more direct: “Jim, what’s the problem?! Is it for free? Or you’re supposed to pay for something?!” What an ass! 

Then with a brave dancing move worthy of a retired but filthy Michael Jackson, he said: “You shall go and make quite an entrance. Is it for free? You moonwalk in! You have to pay? You moonwalk out!” 

Hilarious.

Thus, the day after I went. 

If any of you has ever seen hot weather in London, well, consider you’ve had an experience. I was literally melting! Why did I wear a pair of jeans? What went wrong while dressing up?

Shoreditch was incredible that day, and so was she. Few steps before the corner with Brick Lane we stopped to pick some beverages and chips, and I thought I’d buy a bottle of wine for the hosts as a thank you present for welcoming an unknown guest into their house. The barbecue was taking place on the building rooftop and the sight from up there was breathtaking! The city was bright, clear, open to the admiration of its viewers.

One of the hosts was actually Italian, from Naples like myself, so he would definitely appreciate the wine I chose. “Well done Jim”, I thought.

So I shyly approached him while barbecuing and handed over the bottle of wine along with my thank-you’s. Being told by the guy that I didn’t need to do that cause I’m from Naples, a fellow citizen i.e. a brother, and that I would always be super welcome there, was a priceless reaction. And his well-known accent…

In both these moments, the empathy and the warm hospitality shortened all the long distances and turned those common happenings into a unique space.

London, May 2016. 

No matter where you are, what you do, what language you speak.

That felt like home. That was my homeland.

Jim
The Britalian Post

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