In the last few days, I have noticed a huge change in myself. I don’t know if it has something to do with the weather (it poured this morning so I’m going to guess that’s not it), my increase in endorphins as I have planned the next leg of my life, or because I simply forgot to be self-conscious.
I kind of think it’s that last one.
I didn’t always love Florence. I know that comes as a surprise to all of you. Or maybe you caught that in my sometimes bitter-like-only-a-true-expat-should-be tone? I’ll reiterate for the last time that when I came here I assumed all would be lollipops and unicorns since Lorenzo and I were reunited. Boy was I wrong. I had come into a place that I spoke no word of the language, knew nothing of the culture and I’ll just say I’m not the most skilled map-reader in the world.
There were a few months of me being holed up in our apartment alone, with no friends and nothing to keep me busy. I couldn’t complete anything because I didn’t believe I should be allowed to speak English to get my point across. The funny thing was that the Florentines are used to foreigners and they weren’t judging me (well, maybe they were) for not speaking Italian because they had no idea that I was living in the city.
I brought up all this not-so-fun-to-remember stuff because I have surprised myself lately. The other day after meeting a friend for lunch I realized that I needed stain remover for my clothes. I thought in true Annie in Italy fashion that I should put it off for another time, like maybe a time that Lorenzo was going to the store. Then as I approached the store (it was on my way home) I stepped in and realized it is my local grocery, and it is familiar. Then as if that comfortable reminder was all I needed I chose two items off the shelf and, unsure of which was stain fighter, waltzed up to the store clerk and began asking her which was best for stains or if they were both detergents. The funny thing was that I am pretty sure I don’t know how to talk about stains in Italian. Surprise! Yes I do!
I’m pretty good with Italian words that relate to food (duh, that’s the first thing you need to learn!), but usually if I don’t know what something is, I don’t order it. Last night when our waitress came up to us and asked if we needed help with anything, without even looking at Lorenzo I began asking her what was in one of the sauces. She asked if I wanted an English menu and started speaking in English. I kept true to my Italian (honestly, more by accident) and she eventually switched back. Lorenzo looked at me half with shock and half with pride. Later in the evening he tried explaining something to me and I said that I already knew; he let out an exasperated sigh and said:
You’ve been here too long, I can’t teach you anything anymore!
There you have it folks, confidence in a new culture, a new language and living life as an expat. That must mean it is perfect timing to pick up and move somewhere new!