I have 236 pages of reading tonight to complete for my classes tomorrow and I have read maybe 97 pages or so. I am so easily distracted and I have one obsession driving me crazy right now: Italy.
Instead of doing the reading I was assigned as homework, I have spent the last couple of hours reading, looking, etc about Italy...more specifically Rome. Maybe it doesn't help that I am reading Renaissance literature this summer and am studying the Italian Futurists in my "Avant-Gardism" class. Maybe all this love of Italy is birthed from the fact that I cannot get away from it. She is everywhere but then again she is here by choice, she is not forced upon me. After all, I have chosen to double major in Italian.
Did the whole universe conspire to this love? Was that fateful day in which I left to what I thought to be "randomness" to learn a new language predestined?
I cannot say. All I can say that that July of 2009 when I pulled "Italian" from my plastic bag, I was somewhat relieved that I wasn't going to have to learn a whole new script for Arabic. I remember immediately going to Livemocha and beginning my Italian "courses." Arguably we could say that Italian is so similar to Spanish and this has greatly facilitated my learning of it but I was also rather obsessive in my learning. I used to listen to the radio constantly, watched movies, tried to read in Italian--I am still amazed now when I listen (much less frequently) and I understand. I can understand! Isn't that amazing? Furthermore, people understand me! I speak and they understand me! I am by no means fluent but I am still amazed. I am amazed that what was once undecipherable is now intelligible language. Is it this that made me fall in love? Have I replaced all sense of romantic love into a country? It is possible.
I often say I am glad I am not Italian and I am very serious when I say this because if I was I probably would not love Italy as I do. The beauty of Italy is that it is not my own but foreign. Even in all of its foreignness it is mine because she has it all: art, food, language, music, landscape. She is not mine by obligation, she is mine because I have chosen her to be my lover and she always welcomes me with open arms. She does not stifle me. She accepts me with all my virtues and faults. And I have proof she loves me back because even when I visited her in winter she provided me beautiful sunny days and only rained the day of my departure.
Do not ask me why I love her because I cannot tell you why. I just feel it. You know that sensation, the one that gives you butterflies in your tummy, that makes your chest ache, that makes you smile immediately at the thought...Italy is this to me. I cannot help but think of Carrie Bradshaw (sorry for those who never saw Sex in the City) and how she describe New York City as her lover. I understand now fully what she meant. The idea of Italy is so powerful in my mind, the ideal portrait of the Old World still living. Granted all of Europe contains this element but in Italy it is different. Maybe her landscape often reminds me of California and there is some comfort in that. Maybe it is the fact that the art I have loved from my childhood is housed in the Uffizi in Florence. Maybe it is the incredible diverse amounts of cheese and wine. Maybe it is the people and their melodious language accompanied by hand gestures. Non so e non posso spiegarlo, solo so che l'ho nel cuore.