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Fiume, Baranzate MI, Italy, 2020

I chose one of the many benches of the green area, the one hidden among the pines that look out to the soccer field, enclosed by a slightly too high fence and locked by a slightly too heavy padlock. The morning sun is warm, the fresh air passes through the trees and carries the scents of a garden: grass, earth, damp. The sensations I feel now are in clear contrast with those that attacked me until a few minutes ago when we walked in in the small bar that has been closed for a year now. There, all we could feel was dust, an unmoved atmosphere, and the absurd feeling of having interrupted something, of having broken a delicate balance made up of cobwebs and infiltrations.

It feels almost uncomfortable entering abandoned places: even when you are focused on obtaining as much information as possible, your journey becomes an intimate one. Every closed door gifts us a moment of bated breath and the curiosity to see what else can be found. And all of those things wasted away are calling us: a bottle of juice, pills, remote controls, a teddy bear, toys. As if whoever was living in that place had to suddenly escape, hinting at a pre-apocalyptic moment in which we all seem to live every day and that will eventually strike us in the future.

With that stuffy smell still lingering, I try to observe what is happening around us. The garden is full of teens like me, with the same exploratory mission. Beyond us, nothing. Few people pass by and it is as if they can not see us. It makes me wonder: who are the invisible ones? Who is the reflection of whom? Playing along with the shadows that surround us is inevitable: I see a bush of curly hair jumping to the rhythm of a song I can not hear, a leather jacket that smells of smoke just by looking at it, I feel the slow pace of those who have lived enough and are tired of carrying their luggage. Yet, in the park, there is only us.

I close my eyes.

Nature is always present, especially in the corners that we forget to inhabit. I hear birds playing in the trees behind me, probably chasing each other. In the distance, you can hear the rhythmic call of a hunting hawk. Every corner enlightened by the sun is home to a lizard. The damp grass bends under the steps of a crow. I realize that I have opened my eyes again: too many things happening around me. I try to turn my head slowly, even if keeping the thoughts in line is difficult and it just becomes a ball of yarn that gets lost and rolls around the pines between the benches, that runs over the fence and then finally comes back to me.

Looking at that empty playground makes you melancholic. It does not have any peculiarities, yet it is for this very reason that it takes me back to the one I played in as a child, with those hard floors that made games unsafe. Staring at it for a little, the mind populates it with impalpable forms, dejà-vu of other dimensions. The gaze runs until it stumbles on one of the many walls that seem to characterize the area. Among the parallel red bricks, curved in an unusual sinuosity, a lonely and broken eggshell stands out. Looking at it closely, it's absurd: it broke in two perfectly balanced halves, wedged into each other, clean. It would be too easy to compare the lost perfection of that small life incubator and the failure of the engineered machine that we are called to awaken. Instead, a nursery rhyme rings into my head "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a nice fall, and all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again". Who knows how many children have fallen, how many boys have stumbled over broken tiles on the floor. Who knows how many people have cheered, sang, and joked. Who knows if some love has blossomed on this bench, if someone has a favorite place here that has become its little nest, like the one I have in Parco Sempione.

Today we don't need any vault and ornament to feel the passion of space: it shines through the cracks of bland architecture without anyone noticing it, and it would be enough just to stop and observe them. Still, no one has entered until now, even now that we are finished here. Maybe I should lend a hand to my colleagues, but it almost seems like the world is spinning a little slower now. I care about the sun, the green, the concrete. I care about ugly graffiti and all those different types of fences. In my mind, I try to have a glimpse of the final design, but everything runs too fast and, like a mirage, it becomes blurry.

I think I will stay here for a while longer, listening to sounds of the park in Via Fiume, and all its whispered stories.

Go ahead without me, I'll join you later.


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