Latin isn’t Italian…but it built it’s linguistic basement.
Which is helpful as a Catholic who has been quietly absorbing root words and linguistic building blocks her whole life, unknowingly. So yes, maybe I sound really, really stupid when I surprise everyone at the market (myself included) by uttering the Latin word for ‘pepper’ when I’m hunting for jalapenos…but it gets the job done.
Anywho, I had a sort of mini-epiphany this morning, whilst hanging laundry on ye olde drying rack, the busy morning commute rushing by 4 stories below me, and St. Peter’s Basilica looming on the horizon, always in my peripheral when I’m out in our ‘yard.’
It occurred to me, perhaps not for the first time but kind of for the first time, if you know what I mean, that we live here.
Like, hot damn, we live in one of the world’s most beautiful, historic, epic, highly-trafficked and most sought-after travel destinations…and I have spent the past 5 months alternating between resenting it and enduring it.
I give myself 1,000 meters of slack (metric system, holler) because oh my gosh has it been hard living here with children. And the bureaucracy is insanity incarnate. And for an extremely type-A choleric who thrives on efficiency and competence…well, it’s a special kind of ugly.
But…but…we’re here. And for the foreseeable future, this is home.
Now, I don’t begrudge myself one single second of the grief or annoyance I’ve felt these past 5 months, because it has been hard. as. hell. I’ve essentially started over, at the tender age of 30, in a country whose language I don’t speak (well) and whose customs and machinations are ever so unfamiliar. And with a growing pack of mewling toddlers underfoot. So yes, props to me for surviving, no regrets, et cetera et cetera…but enough.
I’m done hating Italy.
Let me be clear, I’ve never truly hated it…but I have most definitely hated what it is not: convenient, orderly, predictable, fair and just, safe, and familiar.
Putting all that aside, there are a few things which my new land is: beautiful, chaotic, historic, mysterious, and filled with some of the most crazy-interesting people I will probably ever meet. Or at least observe from a safe distance.
So from today forward, (and allowing aaaaaaample room for regression, backtracking, pregnancy-induced sobfests over retail unavailability of this-or-that baby item) I’m all in.
I can’t control a single thing here except for my reaction to this life that has been assigned for me to live. I can’t even really control my children, as Mr. I’m-totally-potty-trained-nevermind-just-kidding-suckers has me convinced. But I am not a victim of living here. And I am not the insecure, timid, angry and overwhelmed woman I feel like a lot of the time here.
So I can’t speak the language well? Well, time to start putting in more hours with Miss Rosetta Stone in lieu of trolling the internet for scraps of familiar comfort. Especially considering how very much I’d like to be able to (convincingly) ask for an eventual epidural 6 months from now, and for my cervix to be left alone during all future pre-natal appointments. Despite feeling otherwise, I am not, in fact, an over-sized child at the mercy of Italian-speaking adults.
I have let so many things happen here which I would never have allowed back home. For one, I’ve become that annoying foreigner who is constantly mentally referring to life ‘back home,’ which a sweet friend and fellow ex-pat strictly warned me against when we were still in the starry-eyed planning stages of this adventure.
“Don’t be that girl who is always throwing around ‘well back home we do such-and-such,’ because nobody will want to be friends with that girl. She isn’t really ‘there,’ she’s just putting in her time until she gets back to her real life.”
I may not be doing this out loud, but I’m definitely doing it on the inside. It’s the reason I always sit by myself at the park. It’s the reason I’ve stopped accepting new invitations from mom friends or potential mom friends who come across the radar periodically. I don’t have time to invest in that relationship or that event, because I won’t be living here forever, or simply my Italian is so bad it isn’t worth trying to make a non-English speaking friend.
Well shame on me. Except I said I wouldn’t shame myself for my largely excuseable but no longer acceptable behavior here. So never mind.
The simple truth is, I’m here now, and for who knows how long. So I might as well be here. And not in a resigned, long-suffering way, but in a bright and engaged and, dammit, a cheerful sort of way. Pope Francis was totally not expecting to live in Rome, either, but I’d say he is handling it rather well.
And after all, it’s a blessing that we’re here. That any of us are wherever God happens to have us at the moment.
So I am going to carpe the shit out of the diem. (Mom, I promise I don’t swear this much in front of the grand kids in real life.) I am going to borrow a sort of detestable but applicable phrase from the effervescent Kelle Hampton and suck the marrow out of this experience.
Because what else can I do? I’m here. Rome’s here. And all this pasta…well, thanks to a mild lifelong aversion to the stuff, I’m finally experiencing one of those magical, mythical ‘skinny pregnancies’ where the first trimester passes but the scale remains stationary.
So Rome, I’d like to start fresh. I’m new in town, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve got to offer.