23. Dreamers

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                  In my bed at 5 p.m. Noemi and I talked about stars. We had just finished doing our homework, like the good nerds that we were, and now it was time to cuddle. My favourite part.

    "You know, I think I wanna be an astronaut," she said.

    "Yeah, me too."

    "And not just as a joke or a vague dream... I want to be an astronaut. I'm going to."

    At first I smiled, distracted by the heat of her body next to mine and the cosiness of her arms. But then I opened my eyes and looked at her. The determination in her voice made me realize she was dead serious. And I was petrified. I couldn't imagine her infinities away from me, with galaxies separating us from one another. 

    "What about art?" I whispered.

    She pondered the question, conflicted. "Well, I could paint the world from my spaceship. That'd be something new, right?"

    "Yeah, I guess."

    "I mean, I love art. But.. I don't want to make a career out of it. My art is for myself, it helps me cope with stuff. I would never want the world to see my paintings. One single glance and they'd have the key to my soul." 

    "Okay, I get that. But, don't you think it's worth it anyway? You might expose yourself, but at least you'll be doing what you love, I mean art is your passion –"

    "But so is astrophysics! And not only because I know that space exploration is what will shape the future of humanity. I just..." She sat up and crossed her legs.    "I don't want to be the first woman to walk on Mars, or the first Italian, or the first Italian woman. I just want to walk on Mars. It doesn't matter how the world will remember me. What matters is how I will remember the world."

    God, she was so convinced I could almost see her in her astronaut suit floating in space and it was this vivid image that I knew would sooner or later become reality. I could even imagine the stars falling in love with her. And I was so happy that she had it all figured out and knew exactly where she had to go, but I was also a little envious. Because I lacked that. I lacked that confidence that seemed to ignite her fire, that certitude that started the engine of her rocket. I lacked a dream.

    "How do you know?" I asked. "How do you know what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life?"

    She shrugged. "I don't know, I guess you just have to search. If you just sit there all day and wonder about it, you're probably not gonna find it. But if you read books and articles and talk to people and research any topic, any little thing that interests you, you'll find it. But you have to go out there and look for it. And it's a deep, deep ocean, swimming in infinity can be scary."

    I looked around. How could I turn my ocean into a little lake? How could I know where to search, where to go, when even my own bedroom had nothing that screamed my name, nothing that gave me a clue to my passion? I had Star Wars figurines, Genoa CFC flag, a poster of Michael Jordan. Guitar, video games, socks on the floor, a picture of my friends at my birthday party last year... 

     ''So, uhm, what's your plan for Christmas holidays?'' I asked.

    With her head on my chest, she closed her eyes and grinned. ''Hmm. I think a good Christmas lunch with ravioli and Pandoro."

    ''That sounds nice.''

    ''Yeah, what about you?''

    "I don't know yet. My friends invited me to Milan, it's Dario's birthday and there's this concert and uhm, I don't know. I don't know if I should go.''

    Noemi sat up. ''You should!''

    ''You think?''

    ''Yes, of course! You should never miss such an adventure!''

    I smiled. Adventure. Everything was an adventure to her. Perhaps if she knew how broken our friendship was, she wouldn't call it that way. I always shared everything with her, yet I didn't tell her the way my heart squeezed today when Gaia yelled and Virginia seemed to lose all the strength she had.  I didn't describe the coldness of pitch black eyes and how I felt guilty while looking into them, because I was spending more time with her than with my best friend. Now I didn't even remember who was the first one to abandon who, but what the hell, what was left of us couldn't be ruined anyway.

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