Sunday, September 25, 2011

And For A Second

When you live in a different country, especially one that speaks another language, you find that you develop a different personality, to fit that particular country.

When I lived in Italy, I had my 'Italian' personality, where certain ways of thinking, speaking, and gesturing were the norm. I also had my Australian personality, which manifested itself differently. Being a kid probably made this even more noticeable.

When it gets to the point when you begin to think in Italian, to see structure and patterns in the world differently than you would have in the Australian context, things become interesting.

I would often go to school, where my thought processes and real world interactions did not even come near my Australian self. The longer you stay in that place, the stronger that character becomes. I imagine if I had stayed, my Australian self would have slowly disappeared, until I was simply an Italian kid.

I remember sitting in the plane in early 2003, on the way home to Australia, being very excited about going home, but also aware that the personality i had developed in Italy, and spent so long despising, had recently become an important part of the way I looked at the world.

As the plane sped up, that roar it makes just before take off filling my ears, I recall being sadly melancholy, despite my excitement. As I watched the suburbs of Rome slip away behind cloud banks, I think i felt a bit torn between worlds. I had spent most of my life in Australia, but some important formative ones in Italy. I guess this limbo lasted the course of the flight.

We we arrived at Tullamarine airport, and eventually hopped into a taxi to head home, the driver turned around and looked at us. He was an older Australian bloke.
"Where to guys?"
"Elsternwick thanks."
"No worries!

I'm not sure what it was, but that phrase, said in that particular accent brought back all these memories of home, and I distinctly remember feeling my Italian self almost die entirely in that one moment. That way of speaking, thinking, and expressing myself seemed a million miles away. It just didn't mesh with the world i was in now.

Occasionally I find snippets of the remnants of that frame of mind. Little turns of phrase, or ways in which i tackle certain problems. But for the most part, James the italian kid is gone.

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