Thursday, November 30, 2006

Crazy Extravagances

Continuing from My Story in London so far...Part 2

While I was looking for an office job I was trying to enjoy my single status for once in my life and with money in the bank I felt I had the world at my feet. I started going out every night and meeting lots of new people and new guys. I spent and spent my money on drinks and taxis. Oh, was I generous, I was the most generous person on the planet. Christmas came and I gave to all my friends and family the most expensive gifts. Expensive meals and hotels followed, clothes and shoes, cd's and everything imaginable. I was two months without working and enjoyed everything that life had to offer. The best memory of my time then, was a surprise weekend trip to Italy to see my mum. Just the joy in her face when she opened the door and saw me was worth all the money in the world.
Also good, I must admit, was the feeling of being powerful and to walk in a five star hotel in Kensington and just be a queen for a night. And did I tip? I tipped like there was no tomorrow. Money meant nothing to me, ironically.
Change in my pocket would just fly into waiters and chambermaids hands.
There was no stopping me.

But of course there was. And what did stop me was my empty bank account. It was a ride, the most exciting ride of my life and it ended like every ride, hard and bumpy.
The end was like crashing back to earth after a journey to the moon.

I badly adjusted to having no money and soon I had three credit cards to just keep up with what I got used to so fast.
I got a job in the midst of all this, a good job, badly paid, but a good job. In a very prestigious university in London as an admin assistant in the psychology dept, which for me, was a very good job after waitressing and bartending.
The pay was crap and the credit cards made up for the things I was suddenly missing in life, but soon the credit meant paying for my travel to work.

Life went on and I ended up with 8 thousand dollars debts. Hardly what anybody wishes for at 23 years old. I had nobody to blame, just my stupidity. I wasted all my money and now I deserved every debt I had, because I did not know how to stop. I tried to fill my empty soul with things. And that just did not work. I realized far too late.

My complete denial about everything at the time also affected my romantic life and my conquests were just fun and games. Another notch on the bed. I wanted to prove to the world that I didn't need anybody or need anything that I could not provide myself. After so many years with my ex-boyfriend and time in bed with my injury needing everything and everybody, I thought that now was MY time.
What I didn't realize at the time, was that what I needed more than any shoes or clothes, was love. And all the times I walked in a bar and looked around for my next conquest, even though I felt in control and the most desirable and beautiful person in the room, inside I was just a lonely and scared and insecure little girl in search of her one true love.

Next...the search for the ONE

Friday, November 10, 2006

Shattering my life

Thanks to Anon1 ;), I am taking the chance to talk briefly about my accident in 1995 when I broke my leg and received a sum of money from the insurance.
This was an event that destroyed my life as I knew it then, but thankfully not forever, just for a year. An event that made me lose my job, my boyfriend, my independence, my apartment, everything I loved and worked hard for.
This is the story of how I lost a year of my life for something I thought would only take a few weeks and a white cast that all my friends would sign.

My boyfriend at the time (the same one I went to London with) was driving us in my bike in Rome when a car coming from the left hit me,just my leg, shattering every single bone in many pieces. The hit was so hard and my shock was so much that I didn't know what had happened. The lady that hit me, got out of her car and tried to make me walk and put me in her car to take me to the hospital, but I couldn't move, I was so scared to even look down at my leg for fear of what I would see. The pain was not immediate, the shock stops it at first. My boyfriend was unharmed and white as a sheet, I don't think he said a word, he was also in complete shock.

The ambulance came and took me to hospital where they cut off my jeans and my boots and I saw blood, lots of it. The pain was now unbearable, but I still thought that they would let me go after they put a cast on me. I didn't realise that this was not a simple fracture, I didn't realise that I would spent the next 20 days in hospital, I didn't realise that I would get used to operations and anesthesia and nurses and doctors and that maybe I would always limp.

After a 4 hours operation the doctors were able to put it all back together and they advised me that there had been a chance that I would not have walked perfectly again, but the operation went very well. My life then was the hospital and the highlight of the day was the morning visit from the doctors when it was time for their rounds. Life was boring, painful, scary, I felt trapped, I kept asking 'why me?', I missed my real life so much. The first feelings are of disbelief, then anger, then depression. After a while in the hospital though, I felt like a spoiled kid for even complaining so much, as all I had was a broken leg, a complicated one, but still only a broken leg. I opened my eyes to everybody around me and it made me realise that I was actually very lucky.

Before the accident I was living with my boyfriend but then, as I needed 24 hours day and night care, I had to go back to live with my parents. I could not move from my bed for up to three months and my mum had to do everything for me. I hated being dependent so much from everybody, I felt hopeless, couldn't take a shower or do anything at all, my mum had to wash me and do everything for me. I spent nights awake from the pain and days asleep, I spent hours reading and reading and living in my own world. I made a promise to myself then, to remember always how precious things that we take for granted really are.

My parents lived 2 hours away from where I used to stay with my boyfriend in Rome, so I went from living with him, to seeing him once a week for a few hours. This crashed me more than anything, I loved him and I felt him slipping away slowly, I felt I was the outsider in his life, I felt I was not part of it anymore.

After recovering for a few months and a couple of operations to get some rods out of my leg, I was well enough to limp with crutches and I decided to move back into my flat with my boyfriend. But my flat wasn't my flat anymore. He couldn't afford it anymore on his own, so he moved out and moved to a smaller one. I didn't even have a chance to move, everything was moved for me. After a month at the new flat with him, he left me. He said he didn't love me anymore. I suppose I should have thanked him for waiting until I was well enough....
I felt like my world crashed down once more.

I moved back to my parents feeling pretty low. Before the accident I had a job, a flat, a boyfriend, now I had nothing. I guess as I got the money from the insurance, I felt I really needed it and deserved it and I regret now that I spent it all, but somehow that was what I needed to do.
After a month at home, I ended up getting back with my boyfriend, stupid move, and then after a few months we moved to London together, as you know. I still had not touched my money though, that would start in London after splitting for the last time, see My story in London so far...part 2.
I could have got more money if I took the insurance company to court, but decided not to, I didn't care. The amount I got was 14 thousand dollars. Not an incredible amount of money, but not bad either, I could have bought a nice car or any number of things, but I was 20 and didn't know any better and I preferred spending it bit by bit, day by day, until it was all gone.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My story in London so far....Part 2

We were nearly 4 years together and the way we left each other was horrible. First I left him by telling him that I was not sure about my feelings for him anymore. He took it ok, which meant he must have felt the same, but never told me, decided instead to cheat…but I didn’t know that at the time. We got back together after a couple of weeks, mainly because I was missing him like crazy, but I wasn’t sure whether I missed him or the idea of him. He cheated on me, than I did, then we split up again and then got back together the last time before he just never came home one night.

We just had rented a new flat and he left me with all the rent to pay, couldn’t get out of the contract, but couldn’t get a flatmate to share the rent with me as there was only one bedroom. So it was a nightmare scenario. When he finally got in touch, he said that he was back with the girl he was cheating on me with before.
It was the toughest period of my life and I suddenly felt so low and lonely. It was then that I started going out all the time and be single for the first time in a long time. I just couldn’t face being at home alone.

During this period I also went through some money that I received after an accident where I broke my leg in Rome. It was enough for a deposit for a home and I didn’t touch it for a while, but then suddenly single, I didn’t care about any stupid home, I was only 21, and so went about spending it all, day after day, month after month, hoping to fill my life and my heart with things….

In the meantime I was still working in a bar, but I decided then to take a chance and started going for interviews for an office job. I wanted to improve my life and I knew that working in a bar wasn't going to make me happy forever. I didn't have the time to dedicate to my job search with all the hours at the bar, so I quit. I quit without another job lined up; people called me crazy, but I knew that if I didn't do that, I would have never got out.
So for two months I frantically searched for something better and got myself into debt in the process, after having finished all my money. For two months I was broke and had to get credit cards just to pay my metro ticket, but finally I got a job as admin assistant in a London university. When I got my first paycheck I was ecstatic. It was ridiculous money, even less that I was making in a bar, but it felt really good after all the hard work.

My ex-boyfriend never supported this move, and never believed I could make it in any other job in England other than bars and restaurants, so this made me even more proud of myself. And good riddance of him!

Next time…. Crazy extravagances and debts spiralling out of control

Friday, November 03, 2006

My story in London so far....

I have now been living in London for ten years and there many things I love and hate about the place. Yesterday I met a lovely girl from New York, here in London to study and I spoke to her about my love for the Big Apple.
It made me realise though that I am actually living in a similar place and that many people actually dream about moving to London. I never dreamt about it, it just happened and it was very exciting coming into a new world at 21, a world I knew nothing about, with a language I barely spoke, a new life starting, new experiences, and waiting for you just the unknown. Can be scary, but still exciting.
When I first arrived I hated that I couldn't understand much and I started working in italian restaurants as a waitress. Surrounded by italians, it wasn't very hard, but still alienating and lonely.
The only job I had in Italy before I came was sales assistant in a shoe shop, so I didn't really have anything going on for me, going to college wasn't something I was particularly interested at the time, not the way they had it in Italy. You study for 7 years at least, you live with your parents as you can't afford your own place, and by the time you graduate you are in your late twenties with no job prospects at all, even though you have a degree. That's why I chose to leave. There was nothing that Rome could offer to me at the time. London was a pool of opportunities and a new life.

I didn't come alone, I came with my ex-boyfriend and we ended up separating after a few months here. London does that to you, it changes everything, or maybe we weren't strong enough. We were so young and London was full of things we wanted to explore without each other I suppose. be continued (sorry had to stop writing - my boss has come in!)