Lost Things that Haunt Me: that Book

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Jacqueline. Dull, annoying Jacqueline. Do you remember me? I’m that girl from University. We took several classes together. Do you still have my art book?

Not that I need it anymore: of course, I passed the Contemporary Art exam many years ago. Don’t think I’ll let you get away with it, though. It’s a matter of principle: when someone lends you something, you’re supposed to give it back. I’ve asked you several times, tried to get in touch by phone and e-mail, until I eventually gave up.

What did you do with it? You certainly don’t plan on re-reading it. Boring types like you can’t be sincerely interested in Surrealist painting. You’re more likely to be using it to level a table. I reckon you keep it in a room with all the other stuff you’ve borrowed over the years. Do you save them as trophies? I bet you can’t even remember where they came from. In your carelessness you’ve probably lost them. In the worst case, you’re a calculating person and have sold them. Anything could be expected from a fair-weather friend of your sort.

It’s not just you: I’m disappointed with my student experience in general. During those five years I didn’t make many friends among our colleagues. The few who tried to approach me did it for utilitarian reasons: they needed notes, books, information. They were eager to listen to my account of my latest exam, and find out which questions were asked, but instantly shrank into their shell whenever I ventured to ask if they wanted to join some live music event or a night out in town or even just an innocent coffee on the way back from class.

I don’t know what it’s like in other campuses, but this one didn’t provide me with a stimulating environment. Each student was a monad, focused on himself. Maybe it’s the Italian education system that is faulty, probably because it doesn’t teach people to co-operate. Each student is left to himself.

However, I found friends elsewhere. They were locals and outsiders in their 30s who had been living there for years, doing…what? Some were officially students, but their enrolment dated back to a decade before, and they were using University as an excuse for their alternative lifestyle. They had an aura of decadence around them, but were not all junkies: some were – and are – actually brilliant people who achieved something in life. They were all part of a music scene that existed in that town, although already in decline at the time of my arrival. I fit in. I had found people with similar interests, who were creative and thought outside the box. Unfortunately, those friendships were fragile and didn’t last long: they were drinking and smoking weed, I was sober. All the time. I can’t relate to people who behave like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Also, in the first 4 years there were my roommates from my hometown. When I asked you to join us for a dinner at our place, you too suddenly lost your bubbliness and replied in a manner I would never had expected from a sticky person like you. You thanked, and said you didn’t go to student apartments, because you found them so depressing.

Excuse me? Shared houses are all but sad. In fact, that’s where the fun happens! Your room at a dingy business hotel that you rented on a lump sum, a housing solution that could only be explained with the fact that at 30-ish you were still too lazy or helpless or spoiled to tidy up, clean and cook by yourself: THAT is depressing.

By the way, what were you doing in that town? In a country where youngsters tend to stay as close as possible to their parental home, why did you have to move so far to go to college? Why, when you lived in the industrial north which doesn’t certainly suffer from shortage of good schools? If at least you were aiming at the renowned Alma Mater of Bologna, that could justify it: same if you were graduating in something that couldn’t be learned in other places. But, Foreign Languages at Second Rate University – I don’t get it.

Or maybe I do. What were you hiding? Is there any particular reason why you imposed yourself that self-exile? Were you ashamed of being slightly older than other students? It’s ridiculous, you didn’t qualify as a mature student!

Or was it simply that everyone hated and avoided you because you are an ugly, whimpering, sticky, annoying, long-winded, self-centered only child who doesn’t return borrowed items?

Anyway, you can keep that book. I don’t want things that have been used by other people. It disgusts me.

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