After having lived in Italy for more than two years now, things have improved tremendously in my everyday life. I went to dinner with friends (and fellow expats) on Saturday, and we were discussing the little things that make us happy while living in a foreign land.
First, we understand the majority of what is being said in Italian. Second, we have actual moments where we can carry on complete conversations with Italians and are understood! What most people take for granted, we have worked long and hard to attain.
For example, I no longer have a problem ordering fruit and vegetables or bread and pastries from the local shops. When I want half a loaf of bread, I can say metá. And, when I go to the outdoor mercato or local shop to buy toiletries and supplies, I no longer mix up conditioner with body lotion.
Having Ruby and Ginger with me has been extremely helpful in allowing for ample opportunities to communicate with the locals. The majority of people in Italy love dogs and the elderly Italians especially are quick to stop me for a chat. This morning, I popped in the local panificio to buy some lovely nut and buccelatto rolls (a local Lucchese specialty) and couldn’t leave for at least five minutes because of all the “bellini” (beautiful little ones) and cooing that was going on. And, yes, they are allowed in the bakery with me. Dressed in their pink-striped sweaters I bought in the States, they get more than their fair share of compliments. “Sempre le canine, mai la mamma,” I continue to say (always the dogs, never the mamma).
Even though they get more compliments than I do, they are a constant source of attention. When asked if they are maschile or femminile, or sorelle or fratelli, I can answer that they are feminine and only quasi-sorelle (sort of sisters).
I have settled into my daily routines and am now used to riding my bike to and from work and schlepping up and down three flights of stairs each day – both at work and at home. I can’t imagine shopping for my fruit and vegetables at a large supermarket and am using terms such as supermarket instead of grocery store. That’s because of all the influences of my British friends and colleagues (I almost wrote “whilst” instead of “while” in the first paragraph).
Another very strange thing that has recently happened to me is I am forgetting how to say things in English. I’ve heard lots of people say that in the past and never thought it would happen to me, but it has.
I only speak in Italian to Ruby and Ginger unless I am really mad. It is good practice for me without worrying about saying something the wrong way. My new neighbors know no English so unless I practice the language, I will never be able to speak with them. And, I say, “allora” instead of “so” or “now then” and “basta” instead of “enough.”
So, life continues on here. I know I have not been as communicative lately, but my life just is what it is now. I know that for many people it is still interesting because it is totally a different experience than that of living in the States, but to me it is just what I live. I promise to do better, though.