Tag Archives: ex-pat

being an american in italy

I dreamt of Vermont, of skiing and boots crunching in snow, a real serious cold in the air, but the hot chocolate warming you up, even the cheap watery stuff that tastes like ice-skating as a kid, when I was still waist-height, out of some big metal tureen.

Why are we always wanting to be somewhere else?

Maybe I’ve had the dreams because it’s cold here now, snow flurries all day yesterday even though it’s mid-March, but they don’t know how to heat things properly here so the chill is always there, under your skin. It’s actually warmer to go outside, bundled up, and work up your own warm by walking around, window shopping, treating yourself to a cappuccino.

My friend Marco says that nobody is ever content with where they are from, and by that logic maybe we’re never really content with where we are. I don’t really agree, it’s just people like us that aren’t content; there are plenty who are fine never moving far away from home, who are already looking to buy their own place in their early twenties. I just don’t understand people like that, I don’t think I’ll ever be one.

I dreamt of homemade donuts from the farm, when we drive all the way up to Brewster past the horse farms to get them, still hot, with the cinnamon sugar getting all over your hands.

Today I wanted to just be totally American, jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, nice and comfy, pancakes for breakfast and teaching my new British and Italian friends what the hell s’mores are. There’s one place I’ve found in the city where I can get maple syrup, but I don’t think you can get marshmallows anywhere. It’s those little things that add up, and add up to you missing home.

Someone asked me the other day if I’m proud to be American, and I’m not really, I’ve never been that flag-waving type, I just wasn’t raised that way. But I’m not in that cliched phase of the America-hating ex-pat either. Maybe I was the last time I was living in Europe, during the Bush years, when a lot of us liberals were quite cynical, and it was fashionable.

Now things are different, not that our problems have been solved, but even if I complain now that not much seems to have changed, Marco tells me we just have to give him more time. I see Italian teenagers who wrote “yes we can” on their back-packs. People always ask me who I voted for last time around, when I tell them where I’m from. All these things make me smile in a funny sort of way, because it’s strange how things change, in the world and also in us. Things are a little bit different now, and I can notice that there are some things Europe does better, but there are some things America does better too. It’s nice to be able to see both sides, and not have to choose. But not being so starry-eyed, or black-and-white, this time in Europe, those little things that do bother me here make me miss home much more. Overt racism, stereotyping of different nationalities and even just people from different parts of Italy. My British friends like to make fun of how politically correct we Americans can be, but then sometimes all that just doesn’t look so bad. And I want to be here and there at the same time.