Visiting Vienna

Many years back, as part of a kokology game, I was asked what type of play I would want to act in and, in that play, what I picture as my big scene.

Without much thinking, I said that my big moment would be walking in a street where no one knows me. I envisioned the play to be a musical (funny because I cannot carry a tune) so, at that point, I would be singing about feeling different in a new place and being happy about it.

Happy? Others may find that lonely or difficult. But, yes, the thought of it seems happy for me. Happy because it means no one in the city has a pre-conceived notion of me. I can be who I want to be. I can change my style or my walk or the way I talk and no one would comment on the change because the people don’t know anything about my past. For me that’s freeing and worth being happy about.

Luckily, I finally had the chance of trying this out. I visited Vienna and walked around the city alone.

Despite it being my first experience in a foreign country, I did not feel frightened. My German skills are very basic, but I did not feel the need to panic even when I couldn’t figure out at once the direction in which I was supposed to go. Sometimes I did feel like a child who knows little of the world around her for I couldn’t understand most of the words written or spoken, but I somehow found my way and accomplished my goals for the day. And whenever I had to interact with someone or ask questions, I felt that I carried myself with more stability and firmness than I usually did in my country. I felt that I was looking like a real adult who could command respect despite my young-looking face. Quite ironical because I felt this way in a place where my face would make me look even younger compared to the general populace.

I don’t know what’s with moving places and maturity. I have not yet reflected on that well enough. Perhaps it is caused by being on one’s own or the difficulty of coping with change. All I am sure of is its popularity as a trope. It’s even used in my favorite movie, Cinema Paradiso. In this movie, the impressionable cinema-loving Toto leaves his Sicilian hometown Giancaldo and moves to Rome where he becomes a celebrated director.

While the movie is structured more as a reflection on the past – a way of looking back at how Toto lived his life thus far and how his father-figure affected his life, the themes of change and maturity are undeniably present and entangled with the idea of following one’s passion and the movie’s ode to cinema.

As if by coincidence, one of the brochures I got while walking around Vienna was about the Film Museum’s offerings for January. It turns out that they are showing Cinema Paradiso on January 29! And, as if the film itself is not yet sign enough, I find out that Ennio Morricone, the musical scorer for the movie, will have a concert in the Wiener Stadthalle on February 8.

For me, it’s quite poetic. It seems like my “big scene” is being affirmed. Following Toto’s lead, my crossing borders has initiated my figurative crossing over. I guess what a friend and colleague of mine said is true. When I told her I will go to Austria, she said that the trip will change my views and I will come back home enriched by my experiences.

So I continue walking on, ready to welcome the experiences that are yet to come and hearing in my mind my favorite track from the Cinema Paradiso soundtrack – “Childhood and Manhood”. This music has never been as appropriate as it is now and I, for once, am no longer out of tune.


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