Confession #5: The way it is today

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.

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13 Responses to Confession #5: The way it is today

  1. suzi bittles says:

    And we miss YOU!!! I can imagine the longing you must feel, as I sure would too. It’s like we all need several lifetimes to experience the many paths of life we desire … one is not enough! But my dear friend, you have packed in more richness in your years so far than the majority of people on the planet in a lifetime. Although I know that doesn’t change the simple fact of missing your home … so come visit soon!
    Love, Suzi

  2. bagnidilucca says:

    I love my time in Italy, but I also love my life in Australia. I don’t think I want to live in Italy full time because I would miss all the things you miss about America – in a slightly different way. I can’t go to the movies here because they are dubbed with hideous Italian voices. I will never understand how some things work here – mostly because they don’t. I would miss my friends and my family and I would miss all the things I take for granted when I am at home in lovely Australia. I understand exactly how you feel.

    • If I could live half and half, like you do, that would probably be perfect. France helps. But to quote Dorothy: there’s no place like home. I’ve made a home here, and 90% of the time I’m very happy. Just sometimes I want to be “there”…it’s like slipping on an old pair of slippers. Living overseas–If I can carry on the metaphor–is sometimes like having to wear high heels everywhere, and one of them is broken.

  3. ahh, 13 years past. amazing that it has been that long. i love and miss you so much, all of the time, every single day.

  4. Janette says:

    If you’d like a shot of Americans, maybe we could meet you for a cappuccino when we are there? I also wanted to know if there was anything you might want us to bring from the US? A can of New Mexican green chilies and a package of tortillas or some sour dough bread or some grits (trying to think Southern here)? If we can’t meet in person, I can leave them at our hotel in central Milan for you to pick up! My friend and I will be there this coming Friday evening and then again on June 2nd to the 4th. I’m sure you’re pretty busy with family and such, but if you can sneak away it would be wonderful to meet you. (To remind you, I’m a friend of Kenny Caldwell’s.)

  5. I’m overwhelmed by this offer. So nice. The best thing would be to meet you for a cappuccino. I’d love that.

  6. Joselin says:

    I’m not sure why, but you made me cry with this one. I could so identify, and I only live a couple of airplane hours away! I’ve had you on my mind ever since that FB discussion with you and me and Carlotta. I miss so many of the GPS crowd – you’re just in my DNA – and let’s not begin to talk about family.

    Just think about those people who immigrated and didn’t have telephones and email and Skype. How did they do it????

  7. My Mom and I talk about that all the time…about the fact that if we didn’t have iChat and couldn’t see each other it would be really, really hard. When I came it didn’t really exist with the ease it does now; I was lucky the technology coincided with my decision to leap.

  8. Jean Grow says:

    Your post made my heart slow its rapid beat, reminding me there is a price to pay for everything. I suspect we make peace by embracing the best of what we have in the moment and, occasionally, lamenting that which we have left behind.

  9. ron says:

    we miss you, too!

    but i feel that you’re here, and the past that made you you is here, too — southern, american, 60s and 70s, suburban, middle-class….. my only sister.

    and it’s not the same country it was when we were little, young, adolescent, or youthful.

    proud of you! and with love.

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