My parents began taking me to Italy at a very young age, and to a 3 year old, an 8+ hour flight seems like forever. I’m grateful my parents made Italy such an important and huge part of my life. And, I’m equally grateful they put up with probably hours of “Are we there yet?” when I was a kid. But, per usual, unlike the typical American kid, I never asked, “Are we there yet?” I always asked, “Are we back in America?” To me, long trips to Hillsville, PA to visit my Zia Teresa (only 45 minutes away) seemed like a journey halfway around the world. Eventually, someone must have gotten me a globe because I stopped asking if we’d left the country on car trips.
That first trip to Italy, when I was 3 years old, was the beginning of a passionate relationship between me and my Italy. It didn’t take long for me to find a home away from home, a dual nationality and identity, not another one, but a simultaneous one.
When we eventually came home from that first trip, I had completely forgotten whatever English a 3 year old knows, and instead, spoke in Italian. My parents’ friends and family would speak to me in English, and I would respond, “Ma, che?”
I eventually learned English again, and fortunately still know Italian. I’ve visited there, lived there, cried there, and laughed there. I’ve eaten. A lot. It’s more than language. And trips. And food, fashion, and fun. Italy is, by nature, sexy, passionate, artistic, and full of life. And, I can relate.
My parents legally came to the United States, and I am the son of immigrants to the United States of America. I’m proud to be American. Given the choice, and by laws, I am also a citizen of Italy. She opened her arms to me, when I needed her most. So, you see, I guess I have also been an immigrant, just not to the United States. I don’t have the answers to immigration law questions, but I will say this: I consider myself a citizen of this planet, and unfortunately, none of us have the full freedom to enjoy our home, Earth. We cannot be divisive when it comes to legislation around human beings, for example, immigration – logic and reason need to guide our collective thought and actions, not personal agenda, feelings, or belief systems. It’s sad the world has to endure suffering because we can’t just rationally figure shit out. Silver lining? We’re humans…muthah-f-in homo sapiens. We’ve been around for at least 200,000 years, we’ve survived, and I hope our way distant future generations keep on keepin’ on for the remaining 5 billion years left of this planet. Maybe by then our species will get it right?