Sunday, November 21, 2010

Di Dove Sei? (Where are you from?

“The city of big buildings and bright lights. The city that never sleeps. Good Old New York City,” I say cheerfully to the paper boy who has just asked me the most asked question of all, here in Italy, “Di dove sei,” (where are you from?).

I suddenly want to retract my statements, and put a “But I grew up in Pennsylvania, and lived there for a majority of my life.” But somehow saying New York City seems so much more fun and interesting, and it rolls off my tongue much more quickly and simply. I think deep inside, I truly believe I was meant to be a New Yorker my whole life, to be someone full of adventure and attitude, to be someone who could get through a crowded Times Square without slamming into a single person, to be someone who could walk from Astoria, Queens to lower Manhattan without wincing, to be a true city girl. I think I knew this the first time I came to Italy, when I realized how much I loved Rome and the big, nonstop city atmosphere. As an overwhelming person myself, an overwhelming place to live seems to be a perfect match. “I am from New York City,” I continue to think to myself.

But I am not, and it is crazy to me how nine months in New York City can make me believe I am. In four years of living in Rhode Island, I never once referred to it as my home, and I never once believed it was where I was from. And it never was where I was from.

I deserve a slap on my wrist for forgetting my roots when I told Giuseppe, my new favorite paper boy, who stands in Piazza Della Repubblica every morning, that I was from New York City.

I am a Pennsylvanian. I live near the Amish. I live an hour north of the cheese steak capital of the world. And I couldn’t be more proud of my family or friends that have come from there. But when you start traveling as many times as you buy new shoes, it gets more difficult to remember the last place you occupied, the last place that was your true home

So what makes somewhere HOME? Is it your family? Is it your friends? Is it where you grew up most of your life? Is it where you went to high school? Is it where you went to college? Is it your address? Is it where you have your bank statements set? Or is it where you feel most comfortable, most happy, most lovely, most simple. I want to believe that it’s where you feel most happy, most lovely, most simple. I want to believe that home is what you make it. I want to believe that when I am telling someone I am from New York City, that I am telling them really where I am from.

But I think New York City will soon be just a memory of where I am from. Because if home is really where the heart is, then I am starting to believe that Italy is my home—because I don’t think my heart will ever leave. So when the next Giuseppe asks where I am from, well I think I have a new answer. I am from Italy…and when that next Giuseppe looks at me like I have ten heads, I think I’ll laugh to myself and say, “I just need to say that in Italian next time.”

1 comment:

  1. This really hit home for me because in ten years of living in Canada, I still can't find it in my heart to call it home. When I visit my friends and family back in England I don't call it "going on holiday" or "going to visit", I still call it "going home". Home is where your heart feels its biggest sense of belonging, for whatever reason - people, sights, nostalgia... and my heart will always remain in London.