Thursday, August 11, 2011

You’re Italian, Kid? In Your Dreams!

Sad, but true.
Since I was a teenager, it's been a desire of mine to "be" Italian. It's not as easy as that, though. You don't become Italian like you become a blond or become younger, with a bit of dye here and a nip/tuck there. Indeed, if you’re like me – born in America to two American parents and married to an American living in America – you stand no chance of becoming Italian.
In accordance with Italian nationality law, with no connection to Italy via marriage or parents, I can never be granted Italian citizenship. It’s just one of those “things” I’ll have to live with.
But I can be Italian by association and that’s how I make it work for myself.
I participate in a "Meetup" group ( in DC for Italian language lovers. There are more than 2,000 group members. On average, about 40 to 50 of us meet regularly at a restaurant in DC where, for two to three hours we hang out, eat and chat – in Italian. It’s wonderful.
Inevitably, each time I attend, there are newcomers. So, some of the questions are the same from week to week: “Why do you choose to speak Italian?” “Do you study Italian somewhere in DC?” “Are you Italian?”
That last question always pains me. I want so much to say, "Yes," but I can't and I’ll never be able to.
So instead, I say I grew up in Brooklyn and I'm Italian in my heart.
Now, if only what came out of my mouth was Italian ….
Seriously, I jest. My language skills are pretty good, but compared to some of the Americans who attend the Meetup, I’m just a beginner.
Mama mia! I had no idea I spoke Italian so well!
Picture then, please, my absolute thrill and delight when, about a month ago, I reflected on the fact that the night before I’d been speaking fluent Italian. Bravissimo!
Alas, the feeling only lasted for a moment. I looked around, realized it was morning and I was in bed and that my superior language skills were, literally, a figment of my imagination.
Next time someone at Meetup asks if I’m Italian, I’m simply going to say, “In my dreams.”

1 comment:

  1. LOL... Good one. My husband's father was born on the ship as his grandparents migrated to America. I'm not Italian either, but I'm proud to carry the name. :-)