Just an experiment.
Uh, okay guys ... just to let you know, there is Italian in this. I tried to write it in such a way that you know what's being said though. And my Italian really sucks! Also, if you're curious, all the places are real.
Story Summary: Gerard decides to stay in Milan for a couple days to try to chill out ... but has a mini revelation that will really mean more in the future. The time line is March 2007)
I just got off the phone with Brian. He was kinda pissed at me, but I didn't care. I explained to him that I really needed a breather – just a couple days to chill the fuck out, and luckily we had a 4 day break before the next show. This had been one of our longest tours ever. I felt totally out of touch with the real world, and it was starting to drag me down into a place I didn't want to be. As much as I loved performing and seeing all the fans in each city, I was worn out. I desperately needed a recharge, to just live, without having any obligations for 48 hours.
I entered the lobby of the Four Seasons on the Via Gesù. It was one of the most expensive hotels in Milan. It was really out of character of me to do something like this but I didn't care. I didn't even really have a home at the moment, so why not just splurge on some fancy ass suite and just pretend for a little while? I walked up to the front desk with my one bag and greeted the concierge.
"Uh, buon giorno! I'd like to book a room for two nights, please."
"Sì, sì signor! Let me check for you what we have available."
"Uh, give me the best room you have right now ... I don't care about the cost."
"Oh, sì! You would like a luxurious room!"
"Yes, that would be great, grazie."
"Ah, signor, our Royal Suite is available for the next two nights. I could let you check in right away instead of waiting until 3pm. You would have the entire fifth floor, with a private access and luxury amenities. Also, it has una vista bella di Milano!"
"I'd love a beautiful view. That sounds nice."
"The suite has a lavish living and bedroom with a sitting room, a dressing room and its own balcony. The bathroom has a relaxing soaking tub, walk-in shower and heated marble floors."
"It sounds wonderful. And seriously, I don't want to know how much it is ... can you just put it on my credit card?"
I wondered how I'd explain this one to my accountant?
"Oh, sì, certainly, signor ...?"
"Uh, Way. Gerard Way."
"Excellent, Signor Way. Will it be just you ... or maybe a lady friend?"
Ah, ya gotta love Italians. Actually, to this guy it probably is weird to have some random young dude just waltz right in here by himself and book the most expensive room.
"It's just me on this trip."
"Well, as I said, you have a private entrance to your suite, if you wish to have anyone else stay with you."
Ha! Too funny, he gave me one of those looks ... like, ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge'.
"May I trouble you for your ID and your credit card, Signor Way, and I will take care of the details."
I handed over my passport and Visa card to him.
"Grazie, signor! Please wait un momento and I will have someone show you to your suite."
Since I just booked the most expensive suite in the whole place, they were probably gonna wait on me hand and foot now. I really did want to splurge on myself, but I also just wanted to relax and feel like a normal human being. I guess I should have thought of that first? But I couldn't help but mention something about this to the guy. I walked back up to the counter.
"Sì Signor Way, how else may I be of service to you?"
"Please, call me Gerard. I know I just booked the Royal Suite and I really, truly appreciate your service, but I don't need anything special while I'm here. I just need a short vacation from life, if you know what I mean."
"Oh certainly, Gerard! No problema, I understand completely! But if you need anything, please do not hesitate to call on me."
"I will, grazie."
I stood to the side of the front area and waited for the bell person. Within a couple minutes an older guy came down to great me and take me to the suite.
"Buon giorno! How are you today, signor?"
"I'm great, grazie."
"Excellent. Let me take your bag for you. Please follow me."
I let him take my bag, only because I knew it would probably offend him if I didn't. We arrived at the suite, he opened the door and ushered me in. I'd been in a lot of nice hotel rooms over the years, but this was fucking incredible. There was a giant living room with French doors that were currently open. Beyond those was a patio with the beautiful view as the concierge had mentioned. The bellman showed me around briefly. It was fucking huge!
"And if you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to let us know!"
"Grazie! It's very nice. I'll be sure to let you know if I need anything else."
I gave him 100 Euro as a tip and he left. I was finally alone. I walked out onto the patio. It was about 11:00 am, so the day was young. It was stunning outside. I sat down and lit a smoke. I wished somehow that I could stop time for a moment. I really loved being there. Milan was a beautiful city. Even though part of my family was from Southern Italy, I still felt at home here in the north. I wish I was more fluent in the language though. But, just like anywhere else, if you're not actually from there, people can almost always spot you as a tourist anyway.
European cigarettes were a bit different from their American counterparts. I think there was less chemicals and more actual tobacco in them. It was a damn good smoke. As I slowly exhaled, I thought about what I was going to do that day. I could actually sit here on the balcony the entire day, just smoking cigarettes and be perfectly contented. But the city was calling out to me too. I wanted to find some small café and check out the shops.
Earlier, Brian had expressed concern over me staying by myself and venturing out into the city alone. See, that was the thing I really despised about 'fame'. It was as if I wasn't a 29 ... well, about to be 30, year old man. It was like I was a kid that needed looking after all the time. Yeah, I understood his point. There were a lot of freaks out in the world, but still, I was from fucking Jersey. I could handle my shit. Hell, I'd been in situations before the band where Brain would have crapped his pants. I love the guy, and I am paying him to do a job, but sometimes, I just need some fucking space.
I noticed there were ashtrays strategically placed around the balcony ... yet another thing I loved about Europe. People didn't treat smokers like some second-class citizens or something. I walked back inside and explored the whole suite again. I think the bathroom was as big as my old apartment. I stared at the giant soaking tub. It only took a second for me to decide I was totally getting in that. I walked over and turned the water on. While the tub filled up I went into the small kitchen and opened the fridge. It was stocked with mineral water and a ton of booze. Good thing I was over drinking! I grabbed one of the mineral waters and headed back to the bathroom. I kicked off my shoes and got undressed. I noticed there was another ashtray on the vanity, so I grabbed that and my smokes and lighter from my pants pocket and the mineral water and headed over to the tub, setting everything down around the edge before getting in.
I slowly sunk down into the hot water. For a second, anything I cared about melted right away. Then my cell phone rang ...
"Oh, fuck me! Seriously?"
I contemplated letting it ring, but decided I might as well just answer it and tell whoever it was to fuck off. I reluctantly got out of the tub and walked over to the vanity where I had left my pants on the floor. I grabbed the phone out of my pocket. It was Brian again. Fuck.
"Hey, Gerard. Did you get checked into the hotel okay?"
"Yeah dude ... I'm an adult remember ... I don't need hand holding to check into a hotel."
"Fuck you, Gerard. You know I'm just concerned. I mean, you're in a foreign fucking country by yourself and I feel like I wouldn't be doing my job if I just left you there."
"What? So you're like hanging out downstairs or something?"
"No, but Worm and a couple of the other crew guys are hanging back in town at the other hotel ... just in case you need to call someone ... or you need someone to go out with you."
"Gee, thanks, Dad."
"Seriously. Call Worm if you go out and he can go with you."
Ehh, this was getting really irritating. I just wanted to be alone.
"Look, I'll call if I need to. Otherwise, I'll see you in two and half days."
"Okay ... call Worm ... or me, if you need anything."
"Yeah, yeah will do. Okay bye!"
I hung up and turned the ringer off on my phone then walked back to the tub.
I tried my best to relax, letting my body kind of float in the water. It was a huge fucking tub. I could just about lay down in it without my feet touching the other side. I floated in the water and shut my eyes.
In just under a month, I'd be 30 years old. There was a point in my life that I thought I'd never see that ... that I'd be six feet under by now. But here I was, in a successful band and writing comic books. I was living my dream. So many things were going so well for me, I would've never believed it five years ago. But ever since staying at the Paramour mansion and working on 'The Black Parade', I hadn't felt whole. It was like I was kind of dead ... inside. I flashed back for a second to what the concierge had said ... 'maybe a lady friend' ... Although it was in the Paramour that I had searched deep within myself and realized that I didn't need to always be in a relationship - that I could indeed 'walk this world alone', I couldn't help but feel an emptiness inside now. There was no question about the toxicity of my last relationship and that it absolutely had to end, but it was kinda getting to me that there was no one out there for me.
I sat up and grabbed a cigarette out of the pack. I flicked my lighter and drew the smoke into my lungs. It was soothing, and that combined with the calming hot water was lulling my body into relaxation even though my brain was still fixated on the emotions I had been trying so hard to not let bubble to the surface.
I was starting to convince myself that I really had no 'soul mate'. That I was destined for these relationships that seemed to be fulfilling but only on a surface level. I know I had my own problems ... I wasn't perfect ... I had issues. I wasn't always there when someone needed me. I didn't always take the time to say exactly what I was feeling. And even at this stage in my life, I still felt kind of awkward at times. But I did long for someone to just hold on to. Someone who would understand me and love me for who I was.
I had tried to love every girl I'd been with ... to treat her with respect. I know there were times when I was an alcoholic where I wasn't the most considerate boyfriend. But there were plenty of times when I didn't get respect either. It was discouraging. I guess it all started back in high school. The very first girl I fell in love with, broke my heart. I thought she was my friend. She got with some asshole that ended up taking sleazy pictures of her and spreading them around school. What's worse is that she'd kinda led me on that she would go out with me, but then showed up one day with this other dude draped around her and hickeys all over her neck. I don't know why but I just held on to that memory like a lit fucking candle in my brain that wouldn't go out. Hell, I even wrote a fucking song about it. It was kind of pathetic in a way. But it was the first time in my life that I felt really hurt by love. I felt like I wasn't good enough, or I didn't do something right and that stayed with me.
I remember after that happened how my dad had pulled me aside after dinner one night. We walked outside and he told me that not every girl was going to be the right girl for me. He told me there would be no question in my mind when I did find her, and that I'd probably get a lot of practice in between. He told me, no matter what, to always respect who I was with ... that that's what a real man did. I never forgot that.
But now more than ever, I felt torn up inside. Another thing I didn't like about being famous, was it made it that much harder for me to attempt to get close to someone. It was hard for me to really open up and be myself. I may have a certain stage presence, but in reality I was still a fucking shy, nervous, geek, and not everyone would understand that and accept it. I put on a good act sometimes, but in order for someone to really get to know me, I couldn't do that. I felt that if I met a girl that was interesting, would she really be interested in me and accept me and all my problems and issues, or just be interested in who I was? I might just be overly cautious, especially after my last girlfriend ... but that thought, combined with the fact that even though I'd had long-term relationships they never seemed to work out, was gnawing at my brain.
So there I was, sitting in a giant soaking tub in one of the most expensive suites in Milan, smoking a cigarette, and crying. I hadn't noticed at first when the first tears dripped down my cheeks and into the bath water. I was too lost in thought. But when I realized it, I just let them fall. It had been a long time coming. All the darkness that surrounded me over the last year seemed to kind of lift. I still felt alone, but between the sobs, I felt like some form of normalcy was coming back to my life. I guess crying sort of does that to you, makes you feel human. I popped open the mineral water and after a few sips, the tears ceased. I set the glass bottle down, put out the smoke and dunked my whole head under the water and held my breath. The silence was soothing. When I came up, I did feel better ... like whatever catharsis I needed to take place, had indeed happened. In the back of my mind, there was still hope that someday I wouldn't be alone. As I hit the drain on the tub and stepped out, I imagined all my stress and extra ‘baggage' swirling down with the water.
I grabbed one of the towels and dried off, then went to get my bag from the other room. I didn't have a lot of clothes with me. I didn't want to go out into the city in ripped jeans and a, 'Night of the Living Dead' t-shirt either. So I grabbed my dark black jeans and a black long sleeve shirt and put those on.
After I got dressed and had another smoke on the balcony, I grabbed my jacket and sunglasses and headed downstairs. The same concierge was there as when I checked in.
"Ah, Gerard! How do you like your suite? Is there anything I can get you?"
"Oh it's lovely, really, one of the nicest rooms I've stayed in. I was going to go out and grab some lunch. Can you recommend a good café?"
"Certainly. Close by are many ristorinti ... Ristorante Don Carlos... Ristorante Bice ... Ristorante Savini ... Ristorante Charleston ... Are you looking for something in particular?"
"Just someplace that has good food where I can sit outside."
"Ahh, then Restornate Charleston! It is not that far from here, on Piazza Del Liberty. I can call a driver for you to take you there."
"Is it too far to walk?"
"If you enjoy walking, you can certainly get there from here. Let me write down directions for you. And if you like, I will put the front desk number here for you and you can call and a driver will pick you up when you are done."
So he wrote out a little map for me to get there. I actually felt like a walk would do me good. It looked like it was less than a mile.
"Grazie ... um, I'm sorry I didn't get your name ... instead of just calling you signor ..."
"My name is Antonio. And thank you, Gerard. May your lunch be meraviglioso!"
So I took off out into the streets of Milan. It really was a beautiful city. There was some amazing architecture here. I enjoyed another smoke while I walked over to the café. When I got there, I noticed they did indeed have seating outdoors. A young woman at the entrance greeted me warmly.
"Benvenuto, appena uno per pranzo?"
I really needed to brush up on my Italian, but I figured she was just asking me if it was just me for lunch. I was pretty sure the word for 'outside' was esterno but didn't quite know how to put the phrase together. I guessed she probably spoke English just fine too, so I gave up on trying to 'blend in'.
"Uh, sì, uno. Um, can I sit outside?"
She smiled at me and then replied.
"Of course! It's an unusually nice day today for March, perfect to sit outside."
She led me around through to the outside area and sat me at a table. She handed me one of the menus and said the server would be right out. I took the opportunity to light another smoke. Yeah, I was addicted, but I just couldn't give it up. I glanced over the menu, which wasn't very large, and decided on some simple comfort food: pizza. Just then the waiter came up to the table and set a glass of water down for me.
"Buon giorno! Voi gradiscono un certo vino per iniziare fuori?"
Hmm, vino, definitely no on that...
"Oh uh, sorry, I don't drink any more, but I think I know what I'd like to get."
"Ah, certainly, what can I get for you today?"
"I'll have the la straordinaria pizza con mozzarella di bufala."
"Excellent choice, the pizza is very good. Anything else for you?"
"No, I think I'm good."
"Great! The pizza con mozzarella di bufala will be out in poco tempo!"
The waiter left. I was sitting there enjoying my cigarette when I saw a woman get up from two tables over and approach me. I wondered if she was really coming over to my table and she indeed was when she came up and said ...
"Uh, scusi ... avete altra sigaretta?"
Ha! She wanted a cigarette. I reached for the pack from my pocket and tapped it, exposing one cigarette and handing it to her. I followed by offering her a light, which she graciously accepted. She took a long drag off it and then spoke again.
"Grazie! Aver bisogno di sigaretta!"
I knew she said thanks, but after that I wasn't sure. I think it was something about really needing a smoke. I just replied that it was no problem.
She stood there for a second longer before speaking again.
"Uh, scusa ... Sto avendo un giorno difettoso, io non significo importunarlo ..."
I realized I had better come clean that I only had half an idea of what she was saying to me.
"Uh, il mio italiano non molto buono ... parlate inglese?"
"Oh, yes, sorry! You have a good accent for not speaking a lot of Italian!"
"Oh, thank you, I try, but like I said, I'm not very good."
Since she was still standing there, I figured she wanted to sit down so I offered her a seat.
"Here, please, sit down."
"Oh thank you, I really don't want to impose on you, but I saw you smoking and I just really needed a cigarette!"
I guessed she was probably in her mid twenties. She had blond hair and blue eyes and was probably about 5'5 or so. She was very pretty actually.
"You don't mind if I eat here with you? I've just had a terrible day, and just being alone over there was making me more depressed."
Actually, I didn't mind. I know the whole point of my little ‘vacation' was to be alone, but this girl seemed genuine, and it really did look like something was troubling her, and that was something I could totally relate to. I saw the waiter come back out with a plate of food and he noticed the girl had moved on him. I could see him slightly smile at me. Oh, if only I was some big Italian Romeo. He walked over and placed the plate of food down for her, then went over to her previous table and transferred her drink and silverware. He asked if she needed anything else and she said she didn't. Before she started eating, I thought it would be nice to at least introduce myself.
"Um, my name's Gerard by the way ... nice to meet you."
"Oh jeez, sorry, where are my manners! It's very nice to meet you, Gerard. My name is Luciana."
"So, do you want to talk about your terrible day?"
I figured, what the heck. She's sitting here with me now and she probably does want to share why her day is crappy.
"Oh, it's too much to go into really. Basically, I found out my boyfriend of 3 years has been cheating on me."
Ooo ... yeah ... that sucks.
"Oh man, I'm sorry. I know how you must feel though. I don't have any good sage words of advice though, sorry."
"Thank you, really, it's okay, 'que sera' as they say and all that. But it's just not what I wanted to be dealing with right now."
The waiter came back out and brought my pizza. I took a bite. It was quite good. A lot different from the pizza back home though. I watched her eating her salad. She would have no problem getting another boyfriend.
"I kind of had an interesting day myself actually. I really just needed a vacation from life, to just chill out for a couple days."
"Ah, a vacation from life. That would be nice! What is it that you do, I mean, when you're not having a vacation?"
Eh, it's a simple question, but it's one I kind of dread sometimes. It's not like I don't love what I do, but when you're just trying to be anonymous guy out for lunch you don't want to answer with, 'oh I'm in a famous rock band'...
"Well, I'm in a band ..."
"Locally? You're from the states, right?"
"Yeah, I'm from New Jersey originally. My band has been touring around for awhile now."
"Oh that's cool. That must be interesting, going to different places and stuff. So, would I have heard of you?"
Oh, here it comes ...
She sat there waiting for me to tell her the name of my band. I figured what the hell, it wasn't like I was really going to get to know her or anything.
"Uh, it's My Chemical Romance."
Oh yeah, she knew. I could tell by the look on her face.
"Oh wow. Wait until I tell my friends I bummed a smoke from and then invited myself to eat lunch with a guy from My Chemical Romance! I feel kind of stupid now."
Oh, that was sad! Why would she feel stupid?
"Why would you feel stupid?"
"Well, you're like famous, right? And I'm nobody and just came up to you dumping my problems on you. I can leave if you want."
I silently signed to myself. There was that 'famous' thing again. I really wished that wouldn't throw a monkey wrench into a simple conversation like this.
"No, seriously, don't leave and don't feel like that. Like I said, I don't mind. And you shouldn't feel stupid at all. Maybe your day will be better now since you've talked about it a little bit?"
She took a few sips of her wine, then set the glass back down.
"Thank you, really. I still feel a little awkward."
"Ha! Awkward is my middle name!"
We both laughed. At least she appeared to be slightly more comfortable. She started eating her salad again and I was munching away on the pizza. After a few minutes she stopped and started to speak again.
"You know, I really shouldn't feel bad. My grandmother always told me that the right guy is out there in the world. If you don't find him, he will find you and the fates make it so. Obviously, Nico was not the right guy! It will all work out though."
Wow. She'd kinda had a similar revelation to what I had earlier. But just to hear someone else say something like that was almost like validation to me. Maybe it was fate that this girl bummed a cigarette off me, just to kind of remind me that the right person is 'out there'?
"Only recently did I really believe that myself, but I think you're right, Luciana. And when the right person comes along, you'll just know it."
She smiled. We were both done eating so I took out another smoke and gave her one.
"Thanks, Gerard. I really appreciate the talk and having lunch with you."
"You're welcome, my pleasure."
We sat there and talked a little while longer as we finished our cigarettes. Then she looked at her watch and said she had to be going. We said our goodbyes and I watched her walk away. I didn't look at that as a 'missed opportunity'. I felt we both got exactly what we needed.