Monday, December 10, 2007


Jordan and I have a lot in common aside from the fact that he's my boy. We both reside in Tweenersville. He will always live in the land between the hearing and the deaf and I now find myself between Italy and the USA. He isn't totally hearing nor totally deaf and after living in Grosseto for eleven years, I can't call myself totally American or completely Italian. When I go back to Baltimore there are things that drive me crazy and the same goes for living here; since I'm an optimist by nature, I try to concentrate on and live the best parts of both worlds.
Grosseto is the perfect place to raise a child like Jordan. The crime rate is almost non-existent, my kids play in the street outside my house until way past dark and I feel safe letting them do so. The public school system works well enough so I don't have to worry about which private school to send him to or in which neighborhood to live. There is NO competition between parents about who does what at what level or what achievement test their kids excelled in or "Oh, really that's what he scored, I'm sure he'll do better next time." I have been able to raise Jordan at his own speed and revel in his successes without that competition pressure beating down on me.
It also helped that I didn't give a shit what people thought of me as I screamed and repeated words, vocabulary, lessons, teaching moments and disciplined my child through the streets of Grosseto in broken Italian as people stared at me. Our language issues isolated both of us and we worked through them together, somehow managing to create our own communication mechanism. We understand each other telepathically. His favorite expression is, "you're not a normal Mamma!"
Normal is so boring...what is "normal?" I can tell you what is not "normal." When my mother-in-law and Luca's cousins came in for our wedding, I took them out for a manicure and a lunch with just the "girls." We went to Donna's,only now I can appreciate the irony because "donna" in Italian means "woman" in English. They looked at me and told me that was the first time they had ever "eaten out" for lunch, much less just with "the girls!" I remember thinking, "What the hell am I getting myself into?"
Living here is completely different than life in the States. There are no "girls' lunches out," instead I eat every lunch with my son or family at home and I feel my family on another level. Coming from a divorced family, we rarely had "family meals" and I used to love eating dinner at my friend Susan's house because her mom was an unbelievable cook and ALWAYS had family meals. I guess that inner child in me longed to feel part of a united family in all aspects. Jay, my blast from the past sent me an email two weeks ago and this is what he wrote:
Is there anything in the world that compares to marriage and parenthood? When it comes down to it, don't you and I each really have it all?
My first thought was, "What an amazing guy he has become!" My second thought was, "He is seriously whipped!":) And my third thought was- when my romantic side took over my evil other half, keeping in mind that I saw ENCHANTED for the first time yesterday and have the major hots for Patrick Dempsey along with the other desperate housewives of Italy- do we really ever completely appreciate all that we have while we have it? Can I really "have it all" when half of my family is in the USA? Will Jordan ever really have it all in TWEENERSVILLE? We're both working on it.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I can completely understand why you can't call yourself American nor Italian and that living in Europe is very different from US. My French friends don't worry about crime in France like you at all. One of my friends from Paris came to visit me for two weeks a year ago, and we went to Washington D.C. for a few days so that he could see more than just Atlanta. One night, he wanted to hangout in D.C. in the DARK! I told him "NO WAY!" as Washington D.C. has high crimes. He did NOT know what the hell I was talking about. He even asked me how can crimes happen in DC. I had to EXPLAIN to him that bad people can hide behind the walls and just watch for people to shoot with their guns. Then, in Atlanta, we were walking through a really disgusting slump area of downtown, and I told my friend to stay close with me. He asked me what was wrong with the area, and again, I had to explain to him about crimes. UGH! He just didn't get it! However, I don't blame him for not understanding that crimes hardly exist as I feel often safer in France, especially in Bayonne where I visit frequently, than I do in US. Everybody in Bayonne wants to be friends with everybody. If you don't say "Bonjour" to the bus driver, he/she will NOT like you at all! Family time is certainly very important in France too, especially lunch and dinners. In Italy, do children go home for lunch for about an hour or two? My friends in France go home for lunch and their parents come home too, and they all sit together and talk about their morning and news events. Dinner is also the same situation where everybody MUST be together at the table. One summer when I was in France, I was on a field trip with my high school group and didn't get back to my host family until 9 at night! I seriously thought they were not going to wait for me for dinner that late, but believe or not, they actually DID wait for me! What a shocker! That's definitely one of the things that I love about the European culture as I feel that it's important for the whole family to be together whenever they can so that they can share their lives together and discuss about news events. In US, it's so pathetic! Almost all of my friends never have a family dinner. They just grab one of those TV dinner things from the freezer and eat alone. In my house when I'm home from college, it's usually just my mother, my sister, and me! While there are so many things that I love about France and Europe in general, I still do have some complaints such as business services! I find that France's business services is so disorganized! They always screw reservations, bills, and etc. I know that Italy has the same issue and so, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Being in US has many great advantages and also disadvantages too. So, no place is perfect! I'm sure that if I was living in France, I would feel the same way too as I would not call myself American or French. I can't even call myself American for the most part now as I'm NOT a typical American who won't admit that global warming is happening, voted for the idiot President and the war, and goes to church regularly!