I recently finally saw the movie "Eat Pray Love". It was predictable as I knew it would be and lived up to the moderate expectations I had. The book was better, as is almost always the case. But there was one moment in the film that spoke to me. Julia Roberts is walking down the sidewalk in New York trying to explain to her friend why she is studying Italian. "Every word in Italian is like a truffle", she says. That was the only moment in the film when I actually said "Yes".
I adore Italian. I love to hear my husband speak it, even when he is angry and cursing (actually, especially when he is angry and cursing). I love my own voice in Italian, which transforms from a trifling, nondescript American voice into a rolling, staccato, rhythmic tune when I am speaking Italian. I have a sharp northern Italian accent which is the bane of many jokes from native Italians when they find out I am not a native speaker. I have grown affectionate and proud of my throaty brouhaha Italian full of breathy "H" sounds. Northern Italian is a language of mountains and sharp cheeses and the finest red wines in Italy. It suits me. My children's voices change in cadence and timbre when they switch from English to Italian, becoming deeper and more commanding, a step from adolescents to men in a single breath.
~Come io vorrei~
Even for a translator, some expressions are hard to render. This is a line from an Italian song meaning something along the lines of oh, how I wish... oh, how I would like to... but with a stronger dose of yearning and a heavy sigh that just don't make any sense in English. Italian is a goldmine of expressions and phrases that never cease to make me smile, make me ponder or make me appreciate what poetry means, whether vulgar or exquisite. It is an intrinsic part of how I think and how I wish everyone else did, and I am grateful that I have created a career that lets me explore this one favorite slice of life on earth every day.
Italian really is like a box of truffles to me, the love affair that started so many years ago when my husband said "violino" to me, that just keeps on giving.