I’ve been in Italy 13 years this Spring. My dog, whom we got shortly after I got here, is 13 years old. Hobbling. I’m 13 years older than the love-struck young thing who leapt across an ocean. I’ve been 13 years—aside from vacations back in the U.S.—away from friends, family, a familiar culture and a language that allows me to be myself 100% of the time.
So, I just have to say this: I miss you. I miss the country. I miss American English. I miss the way we dress and the way we strike up conversations at the drop of a hat and the way “democracy” informs the way we view ourselves and other people, despite what they wear. I miss living where the national uniform—jeans—hides our differences. Where casual goes.
I miss Southern accents, my own included. I miss saying “y’all.” I miss streets that flow in grids, neatly pointing toward north, south, east and west. I miss being there when rivers floods and tectonic plates shift; I miss being among my own people when disaster strikes. I miss my sister-in-law and my brother and my mother. I miss knowing that my aunt is only an 8-hour drive away—a drive I would love to make, radio blaring, coffee at the ready. I miss going back to my father’s house and sitting among his books and things. I miss driving around, watching America be America and Americans be Americans. I miss being American among others like me.
There’s a lot about America that concerns me, a lot that I don’t miss, but right now—who can say why?—I miss it with all my heart. I miss it so much.