We love our Italian lives and don’t regret our decision at all. We’ve made great friends and are on nodding acquaintance with many more. We’ve come to understand that we’ve attracted a great deal of curiosity. We went to one of the museums in town and the woman working at the ticket office said we could go in for free because we’re residents of the town. First of all, residents get into the museum for free? Wow, that’s a nice perk. Second, we did not know this woman – how did she know we were residents? We mentioned this to a friend who told us that despite our low profile, people know about us. Small towns are small towns – doesn’t matter the continent.
Even though we have a healthy social life for a couple of language-challenged Americans, we miss our familiar friends and family from the US every single day. When we go out here, it’s work for us on a certain level. Thinking in two languages is exhausting and not since college has my brain worked so hard to learn something. I remember it being a great deal easier then. Sometimes a nice evening out leaves me completely drained. Our challenge with learning this language continues and we have now engaged a private tutor who comes once a week and drills us on irregular past participles. I swear the more I learn the worse I get because in addition to trying to find the right word, I’m now trying to use the correct tense and use the direct object pronoun instead of the reflexive.
For an introvert like me, having the language obstacle is a built-in license to clam up. When you communicate like a three-year-old, the expectations of witty repartee are low. And for the first few months, I got a pass. Now that old excuse is wearing thin and some of our more candid friends are teasing us about our pitiful language skills. Time to step it up – we are in their country after all, so it’s only right that we should use their language. It’s not from lack of trying that we are unable to communicate as we’d like. After my struggle with learning this language, I’ve come to believe that some people have a gift for languages and some don’t. Guess which I am?
This is one reason it’s so exciting for us to have visits from friends and family. Stretches of time talking in the same language, with the same accent. Catching up on things that are familiar to us. After our Roman friends left recently, there was a void in our lives that begged to be filled. Well, I’m very happy to say that we have filled that void and have welcomed another friend into our home. Our dear friend Myra arrived on Thursday and is planning a nice, long visit.
In addition to seeing an old friend and having a deep understanding of what she is saying, it is also wonderful to show her things here that we have come to love. Seeing Italy through someone else’s eyes is a refreshing experience. They always see something that we don’t or have a different take on things that are familiar to us. That is one of the most exciting things about travel to me – to see the many dimensions that shape a place and an experience.
We have many things planned and have left room for some spontaneity. As another close friend always says, “Just let Italy work its magic”. That’s easy enough.