I don’t remember which year it was but I’m sure I was on a train from Verona to Milan, hell knows what I was doing there. I was young and sporting mop-like long hair. Mobile phones back then were a novelty box that one could inconveniently keep in the pocket to allow mum’s stalking activities and to facilitate written communication with girls for even most shy ones.
Next to me in the compartment there was a girl, tall with long dark hair. She was curved over a piece of paper, furiously writing, stopping from time to time to ponder, looking out at the window. The sole idea of writing on a piece of paper and stopping to think and stare out of the window, instead of checking a smartphone, seems to belong to a fascinating and long gone era.
All of a sudden, as the train slows down to a halt, she crumples the sheet of paper, throw it carelessly in the garbage bin, grabs her bag and hurries out, to her station.
I don’t know how intentional that was that but the ball of paper was just sitting on top of the bin, visible, calling for action. As the train moves on I look around and furtively, in the empty compartment, I grab the paper, unfold it and begin to read.
There was nothing indicating who wrote it, not an email, not a number, not even a name. Not to mention twitter or facebook contacts which, at the time, didn’t even exist. Just a piece of writing, a little shred of soul and mind left in a train, with no second meanings, without the eagerness for return of attention which lurks behind the modern meaning of sharing. She never knew who read it, she didn’t even know if anyone would ever had read it.
For some reason I found this small gesture so powerful that, so many years later, I haven’t forgotten it.
Have we lost all of this? Apparently yes.
Is it irremediable? Absolutely not.