Sunday, 21 February 2010
The luck of being foreign
Many Italians, who come from small towns tell me that I am lucky. I am foreign so I can do what I want. I can live with my partner and no one says a thing, I can drink 100 glasses of wine at the bar and no one is going to report back to my parents, I don't have to go to church, I don't have to stay at home every night...basically I can do anything I want and not justify myself to anyone.
The Italians (and I am generalising here) think I am lucky as there is no way they could live with their partner before getting married! The shock and scandal of it all! The first time I met bel fidanzato's parents I slept in his bedroom - in twin beds. Many people were shocked as this was the first time I had been introduced to the family and here I was in his bedroom. After a year together his mother obviously had heard us pushing the twin beds apart in the morning so what did she do....she bought us a double bed. She didn't buy the double bed cause I am foreign and us foreigners like to sleep in big beds, she didn't give me any special treatment...she just saw the way things were, that we were a serious couple and that regardless of what anyone said, we would do things our way...so rather then pretend to not "see", she accepted us as we were, and bought us a double bed.
So everyone says I am lucky because I am a foreigner and it's true but not how they think. Italians (I'm still generalising here, and talking about people from a small town) think people let me bend the rules because I am foreign but it's not true. The truth is that I have always done what I want and if people have a problem with it then too bad. I don't care if people whisper and gossip behind my back, I don't have to worry about making a bella figura because I don't care.
So I am lucky to be a foreigner - not because I get special treatment, but because I have different views and values from many Italians therefore can do what I want. So many Italians that I have met in small towns have said that they could never do what I do, but I want to ask them this - have they ever asked? If they want to live with their partner have they asked their families what they think. If they don't want to get married have they explained why? If they don't want to go to church, have they ever said why?
So many people in small Italian towns lead double lives. If they go on holidays with their partners they book a double room, if they live up north for work they share an apartment, but when they come home...well when they come home everything changes. No one speaks of the 'things' they do outside of the town. If you can't see it then maybe, just maybe it's not true - who knows - not me that's for sure!