I rarely care for anniversaries: I barely remember my own birthday and I find weird to party on December 31st. But there are some dates that I hold dear: April 25th, Piazza Fontana … and the day I moved to the US.
10 years ago I thought I would be in the US for just 4 years, 5 tops, to get a PhD and would be back to Italy. My views of the US and Americans were those of many Europeans: skewed and biased. They changed dramatically to the point friends in Italy say I am americanized, or downright a right-wing nut (this tells more about the differences between American and European politics than anything else).
It’s true I’ve changed. I often tell people how I feel a bit of culture shock when I’m back to Italy; it’s the weird feeling of knowing it’s different and homey at the same time. The culture, the way people interact is foreign to me and at the same time I know those people, they’re my family and my friends for many years, for longer than any of my friends in the US. It’s a discomforting feeling but it’s not to say I don’t miss Italy (or Europe): I do; there is something profoundly European which can’t be found in the US, Boston gets close to be “European,” but not quite.
Though the days of la valigia di cartone are long gone and I am incredibly more connected with friends and family in Italy, I do miss them and it’s always hard to know I won’t be able to participate to important moments in their lives: I missed too many weddings and births to keep a count.
Whereas I miss my friends, I am also conscious what I miss is an idea I have, of a group of people that doesn’t exist anymore. Something everybody always downplays is how apart people grow, how by the virtue of living in a different continent you find yourself stuck with memories long gone: it’s like finding oneself a hundred years old in a decade.
But enough nostalgia! After all I made my decisions and I’m happy with them and I met many people whom I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet if I had chosen to stay in Italy 10 years ago today. (And I wouldn’t have picked up running or climbing either!)