Wednesday, May 23, 2007

8 things about my life in Italy

I've been tagged for an 8 thing meme. After having just done the 4 thing meme, I probably wouldn't have done this if it wasn't Nordette to tag me. Her blog, Confessions of a Jersey Goddess, is one of my favorites, full of intelligent and excellent writing. She asked to know something about my life in Italy, so here goes.

1. When I arrived in for the first time in Italy in 1992, I fell of the train. I was getting off at the Desenzano train station after spending two weeks in Paris, and my future husband was waiting for me on the platform. We hadn't seen each other since meeting in Mexico, and were both really nervous. I stepped down the little rickety steps off the train and missed, and wound up spread-eagled on the pavement. The first thing we did together in Italy was go to the hospital. Only the next day could I enjoy the view...




2. When I came to Italy, I had no idea what kind of things I would miss from America. Italy is so beautiful and I was so in love, that nothing else mattered. With the passing of time I began to miss the most banal of things from America, like tortillas, 24-hour drugstores, Oprah, NPR and afternoon matinees. Once I hit the ten year benchmark, I began to miss the bigger things, like my language, living on the same continent as my family, and the separation of church and state. I've also written about this here and here.


3. I didn't understand a word of what the guy in city hall was saying when my husband and I got married, and just nodded and said everytime he looked at me. I wore black from head to toe on my wedding day.


4. My husband is a chef and a do everything guy. My brother calls him MacGyver. After we married and I became pregnant with our first son, we decided to run a business in one of the Italian mountain lodges known as a Rifugio Alpino. We had a restaurant that seated about 40 people, and rooms for 20. Our rifugio was at 6000 feet altitude at the end of a torturous dirt road. If you would like an idea of what refuges are like check out this page. During the early years we were snowed in often and didn't have a television, and the result were these two apple-cheeked creatures:




5. I've spent much of my time in Italy feeling like an imposter named Jenny, who I wrote about in length here.

6. Italian women have been unflaggingly suspicious of me. My best friend in Italy is Canadian.


7. My life in a foreign country has been the ultimate specchio, or mirror. We have no idea how much our culture and language effect our perception of ourselves, and how others see us, until we are forced to give these up. Sognatrice has written so eloquently about this in her post Masks. I literally felt as if I was in a constant state of flailing for the first 5 or 6 years in Italy, like a turtle on its back.


8. As I pack, with moments of glee interspersed with moments of panic, I rejoice in going home, and in the fact that I already have my return ticket to Italy for next year. Jenny will surely be sorely missed by then.

14 comments:

Brillig said...

I'm trying to remember how I found your blog--I'm pretty sure I've never even commented here, though I've been reading for a while. I lived in Northern Italy (Bolzano--are you familiar with it?) years ago and it haunts me still. So beautiful, and yet such a culture shock! haha. Anyway, I just decided after your beautiful post today that I would finally say "hello."

(And I died laughing at #1. Hahaha. You poor thing! What a way to make an appearance!)

jennifer said...

Hi Brillig- I've been through Bolzano on my way to a skiing area. It is quite beautiful. I had fun remembering my fall off that train, which I hadn't thought about for a while. What an entrance!

sognatrice said...

This is a great list, and has come at the perfect time as I'm just getting to know you :) I'm sorry about number 1, but it's funny looking back, eh?

Ah, and thanks for the mention :)

Jennifer said...

This is a fantastic list. We have a friend who runs a rifugio where we've been overnight or for the day and I say how I would love to do something like that, but G thinks I'm crazy. Neither of us could deal with the isolation. But I love that you did it.

And I love that you fell off the train. I'm so sad you are leaving. I've been blogging since 2005 but I feel like I am finally edging into a nice community of expat bloggers in Italy.

Jennifer said...

Also, your boys are beautiful!

jennifer said...

Hi Jennifer- I won't be leaving this blog, though. And we will always be back to Italy, probably for extended stays.
I appreciated your comment about the rifugio. We spent 8 years up there, and both my boys spent their early years there, which is why I'm now grateful that we did it. The four of us were always together, and my husband shared the parenting load 50/50. I'm probably too selfish to have been a good mom if I had done it alone all day! The rifugio was really beautiful and REALLY HARD. Physically hard! Good thing I had MacGyver up there with me...
Good luck on your Verona apartment. I adore Verona.

Cate said...

I'm so glad you're moving back because clearly you miss it so! I hope you can saturate yourself with everything that you missed. Except maybe 24 hour drug stores.
(BTW, like the others, I love #1).
Do you think your boys will miss Italy?

jennifer said...

Hi Cate! Thanks for stopping by. I know. I do miss home now. It's ironic that I started this blog at this moment, because I haven't always felt this way. It's probably because I'm getting old! (I turned 40 today!)

jennifer said...

I forgot to answer your question about my boys... they're excited for now. We're moving to the foot of the ski slopes in Colorado, and that's enough for them at the moment. Time will tell...

zeva said...

"Once I hit the ten year benchmark, I began to miss the bigger things, like my language, living on the same continent as my family, and the separation of church and state."
exactly! this is what i'm feeling now after 10 years in rome. so it's really interesting & helpful to read your posts about all this.
missing my family is the thing that's really, really hurting me right now! like all americans, i left home when i was 17 and never felt homesick until a few years ago.... now the idea that my parents are getting older and i'm across the ocean is becoming harder and harder to deal with inside of me. leaving USA after my yearly visits is more painful than i ever expected it would be... i'm trying to find a way to get back home for good too. prima o poi!

jennifer said...

Hi Zeva-
Do you have a blog? When I click on your name I can't access your profile. I would love to read about your experience, since you seem to be sharing some of my same feelings. I also left home at 17 and never looked back. But having children and the passage of time has changed everything for me. I really want my children to have the chance to get to know their American family the way they have their Italian side. It's SO hard to make those yearly trips and try to fit it all in.

zeva said...

j-
nope, i don't have a blog... too lazy (=
but i love reading yours!

Nordette Adams said...

Great stuff, Jennifer! Falling off the train? That sounds like something I'd do. :-) I really enjoyed reading about you and random things about you in Italy.

eLí said...

This is a great post! I can't wait to read about what it's like when you return to the land of giant cars, huge roads, Dunkin' Donuts, and Edy's ice cream...
good luck with the move!