Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Time Flies....

I dont mind telling you that I woke up a bit melancholy this morning....nothing major, just a little blue. My friend did not receive her passport so she wont be at the airport today. I have been here almost 3 months and that is a good amount of time to reflect on what I am doing (or not doing). And I had the most bizarre dreams (nightmares really). So, all of that together has me a bit out of sorts.

It is interesting to think of how life just goes on whether you participate or not. Of course, I am now participating in the Italian life and not the American life but nonetheless, it goes on. I think of my family and friends back home doing whatever it is they normally do (which at the time of this writing would be sleeping!) and I am living my daily life over here. Not that the novelty of Venice has worn off, but I still have to go grocery shopping and do laundry just like the rest of them.

Not working throws a whole new wrench into the mix. I was actually concerned before I left (although I never shared it) that I would be bored out of my mind after a month. For years, I worked 50 hours a week, went to school and did outside community activities. All I whined about was wanting to do nothing for a while. And now I am here doing 'nothing' and I absolutely love it. Time flies when you are unemployed! Maybe because there is always something to see or do here and chores take up so much more time than in the US, but I cant help think that I would not be experiencing this same euphoria back home.

Some days I think I cant do this another day and should move back home and other days I think I want to do this forever and buy a extremely overpriced apartment in Venice. But it is comforting to know that I had those same thoughts in Phoenix. I guess it is just human nature (or maybe just my nature) to always be worried about missing out on something or not living your life to its fullest.

I do find that the American Dream and the Italian Dream are different. Americans are consumed with money and possessions (as a sweeping generalization). In fact, I actually have developed some resentment for the games that go on when Americans 'have' to buy a new car every 3 years or get a bigger house just because or my all-time personal favorite--'what do you mean you only have one bathroom?' (dont even get me started on this topic). Working in America is almost mesmerizing and you start to lose track of what is important--people-- and focus on making more money and buying more things--false security. I truly do like the simple life, but it is difficult to be simple in America with all the marketing and pressure we are raised with. The Italians, however (as a sweeping generalization) tend to be more focused on relationships. They are perfectly ok with one bathroom in their life! Dont get me wrong, they have marketing and pressures also, but they are raised with a sense of family and not with some dream of a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, a house in the burbs--you ge the idea. I have been asking some Italians what is the most important thing in their none, they have answered good food with a good woman (or man) to talk with...simple....the rest will fall into place.

So somewhere in the middle, I find myself. Detaching from the consumerism I was raised with and happily participated in and drawing closer to the simpler things and the opportunity to look at the world through different eyes. I think that is a perfect reason to be out of sorts.....and a perfect thing to experience.


sognatrice said...

I agree with you--this is perfectly normal to be feeling, experiencing. I think most of us here probably go through a similar "stuck between two cultures" phase--and then get pushed toward one or the other. I find the longer that I'm here the more disgusted I am about the "buy buy buy, consume consume consume" culture of America (yes, sweeping generalization). I'm at the point now where I really don't think I could return there to live because I just don't buy into that anymore. It's hard to explain that to, say, your American family without offending them, I think, so I just say I'm happy here and leave it that.

I'm glad you're not bored :)

Anonymous said...

I never really felt much "buy, buy, buy" consumer pressure when I was growing up in the US. Maybe that's because I grew up in New York city - and my parents are not consumeristic at all and never had much money (both mad scientists!)

I actually never knew anyone with more than one bathroom when I was growing up. And I only had one friend whose parents had a car - and it was only brought out for special occassions.

I feel like here in Rome, at least, there is a lot of conformism and pressure to wear designer sunglasses, a new cell phone every year and holiday every summer at a beach resort. And people are horrified when I tell them that I like buying stuff second hand. I think that kind of conformist consumeristic pressure is one of the reasons so many Romans are unable to move out of their parents house until they are 40!

So - I guess I just wanted to say that I see that "huge house with multiple bathrooms, big car" consumeristic thing as somewhat regional in the US - you don't get that so much in big cities. But also - there is a lot of "conformist consumerism" here which maybe you don't notice til you've been here a while.