Federico and Federico
"Listening to your conversation was like having a dinner soundtrack! That language of yours... So insanely beautiful."
How did they react?
They laughed, then the blond Federico said, "This is hilarious. We were actually talking about real estate and how hard it is to live in Italy right now... So definitely no jolly topic..."
How did I feel?
I love Italian. Growing up I spent countless summers in Italy. I gorged myself on every new word I could find there, regardless of its meaning. I remember whispering "San Casciano", "Latte freddo" and "Sopra la panca la capra campa" for hours, just because I loved hearing the sounds. One summer I made a list of twenty Tuscan village names: Sitting in the back seat of my family's car I noted them down hastily while driving through so I could learn all of them by heart. For the next year my lonely hour playlist was saved. Back in Germany I would close my eyes and run down my list, repeating those names out loud, creating a little flashback to sunflower fields, grapes and medieval Tuscan houses... Total delectation.
This was ten years ago. While the annual Italy tradition seized to exist the day my mother discovered her ferventness for hiking in the Swiss alps, my passion for Italian still sparks the second I hear that language. To me Italian sounds like music.
Today burst with stunning surprises. The final one happened during dinner. I entered a Kreuzberg Kebab place, ready to treat myself to a Durum. Sitting down I heard it. There it was, "Si, si, ma credo che..." I closed my eyes. I smiled. Then I took the first delicious bite. The next ten minutes were the perfect mix of eating, breathing and listening, though listening is an understatement. I was fully merging in someone else's conversation.
Do you know when you don't speak a language well enough to understand what's being said, no matter if you want to or not? When you can still flip that "content"-switch off and only hear the sound? I master working that switch in Italian (In return I have to concentrate terribly hard to catch some meaning). Well, I switched it off completely and just swam in the sounds. Higher, lower, faster- spiced with a rolled r here and there. It was beautiful.
Once I had finished my meal I went up to them and complimented them, saying thank you for what I had just experienced.
Good thing I had not understood anything: Apparently their conversation had been pretty dark and critical. I had had no clue. We laughed together, then chatted for a bit. I learned that they are both from Rome. The dark haired Federico (yes, the two of them share one name) has been living in Berlin for five years now, "Saving lives", as the blond one added: He is a doctor. The other Federico only just arrived to Berlin three weeks ago. I perked my eyebrows up, "Oh, welcome!" He nodded and smiled. "Thank you! In fact you are the first person I meet who is nice and easy to talk to!" -- Now that I call a compliment. I was flattered. And explained, "Yeah, Berlin can be a rough place to start over at. Meeting people can take a bit. But once you have found the right ones and truthfully engaged with them they stay forever." "Well then I hope to hang out with you again!", he said. Making friends through this project is one of my favorite parts of it. Dear Federico(s), let's hang out soon! As the dark haired Federico pointed out, "though Berlin can be rough there is no other place I would want to be right now. It is capital of Europe, at least for now." I am glad you feel that way, Federico on the left, and I hope you, too, will do so soon, Federico on the right! Can't wait to hang- as long as you teach my a new Italian word. I realized tonight: It is time for a new list.
Here's an update. The most beautiful reaction I ever received: