Mind in Italy
It's hard to believe that this Thursday marks 3 weeks that Tyler and I have been back in the states. Part of me feels like Italy was a lifetime ago, and another part feels as though America is just a vacation and we'll be headed back to Via Cellina any day now. While it's been more than fun house hunting and enjoying this new adventure with my hub, I am absolutely not adjusted to the US of A just yet. And after my conversation with a stranger this morning, I'm not sure that's such a bad thing.
Ty and I are currently staying in an apartment just 5 minutes from the house we bought (and move into the end of February!). We're about 30 minutes from base and so far, Ty doesn't mind the commute at all. The only thing that has been remotely troublesome is going from living in a 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom home to a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. We've been living that way for just about a month now, whether that be when we were in TLF at Aviano, TLF at Shaw, and now, staying in this complex. Ty's been back to work just a few days now and I've found a thing or two to keep me busy. Something we haven't had while staying in this apartment though, is WiFi (dun dun dun).
We also don't have cable, but that's okay because we don't have a TV with us, anyway. We've been living out of the same suitcases we took on the plane with us and have another 3 weeks or so to make those clothes last. I wonder if anyone is getting tired of my jeggings/college T combo... oh, right, that's my normal wardrobe anyway. Regardless of mundane fashion, Ty and I decided last week to get WiFi hooked up here and then just get it hooked up again in a few weeks when we move into the new house. I have been so excited to get WiFi so I could start applying to jobs within the comfort of my sweatpants and not have to get all dolled up for Starbucks anymore. I mean hey, it's the little things, right?
The Internet Man came early this morning and I know I'm an extrovert, but those types of encounters are always awkward for me. I was always the one dealing with repairmen and such while in Italy, but those situations were a little less awkward because neither of us usually spoke each other's language. So it was totally okay to greet someone with a smile and some broken Italian, show them to the room that needed fixing, and shrug your shoulders when you weren't sure who broke the dryer what happened. Now I'm in a country where, for the most part, people can understand me and I them. So now it's this obligated conversation that's about to happen and before I even see who this Internet Man is, I think to myself two things: 1. I hope he doesn't hurt me (I seriously have watched too much Lifetime) and 2. I hope he's nice.
Nice doesn't even begin to describe The Internet Man. He was cheerful, called me Miss, and while he told me stories about how crazy ladies curse him out because they swear he was talking about them (to himself under the porch), made me belly laugh. We continued chatting as he hooked up our WiFi and he mentioned he was from Jamaica. Well, he didn't mention it - he nearly insisted I knew. He said he's proud of his heritage and his ethnicity and can't wait to get back one day. I asked why he stays here and he said because as a foreigner you come to America thinking it's better than what you have, and by the time you realize you were wrong, you're stuck and it's too late to move back home. He talked about his wife and how she just returned to America after being in Jamaica for 4 years getting their son's Visa (yes, 4 years) and how both she and her son are ecstatic about being here and seeing all that the USA has to offer, "like Walmart," he not-so-jokingly said. I told him my husband was the same way, and began to talk about our time in Italy.
After 20 minutes had passed of us exchanging abroad vs stateside stories, we had used the phrase "walking zombies" to describe Americans... which is funny, because again, he was hooking up my Internet. He talked about how there are so many things here to distract us and in other countries, they may not have the money Americans do or the amount of cars, or as big of homes, but they have what's important - family. So cliche, but so true and anyone who has ever lived or possibly even visited abroad know it. He mentioned how his son had been in Jamaica for 4 years, climbing fences to the neighbor's house and outside any minute he could be... since moving to America, with all the gadgets and technology, his son has "lost his strength because he spends all day watching TV." I nervously laughed wondering if he knew I had some serious plans of marathoning my shows once he left. But you know what, he was right. In everything that he was saying, he was right.
He told me about how he lived in New York City years ago and how in the north (now that's a phrase I never thought I'd say), people are busier and are definitely more of zombies than they are down south, but up north they're much more accepting of others and that he could blend in better because "everyone is different." He said that living in South Carolina, people can't understand him because of his accent but that I hadn't asked him once to repeat himself because now I "have a changing ear." We talked about how all the time, everywhere we go there is music or TV playing, and not just one TV but multiple ones, all with different channels blaring. That is something I can't get used to again and once more, I really don't want to. I don't want to become a walking zombie. As much as I love me some WiFi and Facebook, are those really the things I'll miss when I'm dead?
Sure, a morbid thought but after reading this letter a teenager wrote to herself who was dying of cancer and even after watching Last Vegas, being conscious of how I'm living my life is even more prevalent in my day to day thoughts. The Internet Man thanked me for talking to him as he left and it nearly broke my heart. He threw in something about us all being humans, and conversation is all we have. He also mentioned if he sees me in the store he wants to say hello. I can't tell you how much it warmed my heart to hear those words because they couldn't express any better how I feel. My entire life people have said things to me like "you're too happy" or "I want whatever you're on." I guess it is a personality thing, sure, but it's also an awareness "thing." I recognize my time is limited on this Earth and I'll be damned if a good conversation and the chance for a personal connection ever passes me by.
When I first told The Internet Man I thought it was interesting that as an American, I was having a hard time adjusting back to the US. He said "that's because your mind is in Italy, Miss. You must always keep your mind in Italy." And you know, I'll do everything I can to do just that.
In what feels like another lifetime ago, I started a blog. I was 24, living in Italy, and thought this would be a great way to stay in touch with family and friends back home. This is a "past post" I resurrected for your reading pleasure. No grammar has been edited, but has possibly been harmed, in this process.
Estimated Post Date - 2/4/14