When I went to visit my aunt in Philadelphia last winter (HOW have I not blogged about that trip yet?!), she showed me wonderful old family photos. She showed this one and it made me especially happy:
This is me (on the right) and my cousin Amanda in Naples, Italy, in October 1993. It was our uncle’s wedding. I loved that outfit because my Zia Maria had bought it for me. It made me feel very chic and I wore it all the time until I grew out of it. I didn’t even remember posing for this photo until my aunt showed it to me.
This is me and Patrick with a small handful of our Italian cousins (my mom has seven brothers and sisters, and each of her siblings has anywhere from two to four children. That’s a lot of cousins). With the exception of Kenny and Tony (my Philly cousins), I haven’t seen the rest of them in person since the day this photograph was taken. It’s really strange to think all that time has gone by. It is the only time in my life I can remember being in Italy, which makes me sad, considering that I’m Italian. No, not “Italian” like those assholes on Jersey Shore, but really Italian – I have an Italian birth certificate, an Italian mama with a legit accent, and about thirty family members still living there. I have dual Italian/American citizenship. Do I speak the language? No, I understand it better than I can speak it. (I’m working on it).
Usually people don’t know I am Italian because I do not have the stereotypical features (except for, alas, my nose). When I was twelve, I had to take an ESL (English as a Second Language) test since I was not an American citizen at that time. It was stupid. I moved to the States when I was eight months old and was making straight A’s, so obviously English was my primary language. I grew up in South Texas, so everyone else in the cafeteria taking the test with me were Hispanic. I was literally the only white girl in the room. One kid looked at me and said loudly, “What language do you speak? Irish?”
The two weeks we spent in Italy were wonderful. I was especially taken with the Mediterranean Sea and Mount Vesuvius. The videos my dad and uncle took of the trip show me hyper and pointing out Mt. Vesuvius and the Mediterranean Sea every five seconds (how did my parents put up with me?)
This picture of Amanda and me makes me happy for many reasons. It brings back all those great memories. My favorite, beautiful Italian landmarks are right in the background. I even look Italian in this picture. After my aunt had showed it to me, I immediately posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Me and my cousin Amanda in 1993…I can’t believe how little we were!!! (Look at Mt. Vesuvius in the background!)” My brother commented with, “It’s like 9 year old Jenn time-traveled and added that statement in parentheses.”
I guess I’m rambling because I’m feeling so nostalgic for Italy right now and missing all my relatives I haven’t seen in years. I miss my Zia Lucia and uncle and cousins. And I really miss Amanda. Amanda and I hit it off right away despite not having seen each other since we were kids. You know when you have a relative and you’re like, “Man, even if we weren’t related, we’d still be friends because you are SO FREAKIN’ AWESOME?” That sums up Amanda pretty well. I hope she visits me soon. I want to visit them again, even though that means I’ll have to get on a plane. (Give me some Xanax and that can happen.)
I like comparing the picture of our younger selves to our more sophisticated selves in New York City.
My family…Italy…New York City…Philadelphia…my heart wants so many things right now.