Intimate with strangers

“I realized that I have postponed this writing not only because I am lazy, but also because what follows is so intimate that I was not sure, with all its obvious contradictions, I wanted it to be out there, online, with the risk of giving the wrong message of wanting to show off, which is so far from my intentions. It is tricky how something so public can be so intimate, so personal, so mine and no one else's. When I started doing this I had to face some misunderstandings, especially from the people who were closer to me, that had a hard time understanding my reasons, my point of view, and therefore my feelings. The emotional whirlwind that I was enjoying, as a teenage closure, together with the end of high school, the need of finding my own space, my own special story, my very, very personal thing. Which was me and the road. Not the road, the street, "la strada", in town, but in English it sounds a lot neater than I'd like. Me and the gifts that the street would give me, the people. I've been so deeply in love with the street, its magic, its gifts, its never ending surprises. I was desperate for something new, for learning from strangers that otherwise, I would never have welcomed in my life. So I invited them to come to me. I sat with my sign, and they came, knowing that I would have listened to them. They came with their stories, or only with their curiosity.

The bond I established with the strangers, the storytellers, has given me some emotions that I didn't know and that, despite all the travelling I have experienced in the years that have passed, I have also never found again. Because it was unique. Different. I have been intimate (more intimate!) with strangers in other situations, but I can't recall anything comparable to the secrets shared on the ground, on the sidewalk, while more strangers are passing by, glancing or ignoring. And apart from that, I created a whole world around this situation. Same bar, same people after the story-listening session, in a space in my city that was disconnected from what my personal world had been until then. I don't know why I stopped. I had the chance to explore more of the world, to actually travel and not let the travellers come to me with their stories. I did travel with my sign.
At some point, I stopped. I can't tell why, it was gradual. It was more than seven years ago when I started and more than two years since the last time I have done it. I don't feel like I am over with it. It is just a long pause.”

text & image:
Francesca, 26
Rome, Italy