February 18, 2007

five things about the US

I am going to take up Shelley’s invitation to share “the five things I miss about the US”. This is tough. The US is a great place to visit, like Paris or Istanbul, but although there is family and familiarity, it is not home anymore. I was 22 when I got on a plane and first arrived without a word of the language or a drop of Italian blood in my veins, just to “see something of the world”. I stayed just a bit too long and once passed the tipping point (marriage and then kids to be exact), life became Italian.

But, now that I think about it……

1. What I miss most is the two big “O”s: opportunity and optimism, to be able to run with an idea without ending up hitting your head against the wall or wandering in a quagmire of paper and ambiguity. I hate to have to say it, but after 26 years I have learned to accept that Italian ways are tricky and opening doors takes more than a straightforward key.

2. I never drink American coffee here and it would never even cross my mind to seek it out, but when in the US I like waking to the sound of coffee being ground, the aroma of freshly perked coffee, choosing a mug among my mother’s collection and sipping it slowly while reading….

3. The NY Times Sunday edition that arrives on your doorstep with a loud THUMP – a huge vacation treat.

4. Service in the form of supermarket baggers. I think about them everytime I try to simultaneously open those sticky plastic bags, throw in the items of my nearly 100 euro spesa (family style), give my GS punti card to the gum chewing cashier, open my purse and wallet and hand over cash, wait for her to ask me for change (hai 34 centesimi?), dig out 34 centesimi, hand them over, get back the rest and -- having held up the line by now with this exchange -- finish bagging and finally load the loot in the cart. I want to hug those US baggers as they smile and repeat, “have a good day”.

5. Written instructions, programs, schedules, calendars. Just write it down!

For the rest, I don’t crave American foods (except Christmas sweets with cinamon, all-spice, ginger and molasses), would never consider having a cappucino after lunch or feeding infants anything but minestrina con olio d’oliva e parmigiano. I live without a dryer (and where would I put that) using “hanging time” to think, drive without fear and have learned to distinguish among grades and variations olive oils. Life is good.

Have I crossed the line to becoming a fully integrated immigrant and a multicultural person?

A domani,


sognatrice said...

Oh I *hate* the awkwardness at the grocery store, fumbling for all those things! I think Italians are so cool about it because they don't actually care that they're holding up the line...now if only we could integrate with that ;)

ilene said...

Kudos to you Larc!!
Here is an idea for you that came when reading that the supermarket cashier gave you the "rest" - in English speaking places they give you change. In italia ti danno il resto. Do you notice how we un-sub-in consciously adopt, integrate and morph our language patterns and use???

Also another question is what are the deep roots behind the fact that in Italian the punctuation marks go outside the quotation marks. I still perceive this as pure perversion!!!

Keep it up and I will keep visiting