Moving to another country long-term changes you. In some ways you grow and improve and in other ways you start to suck horribly bad. Since living in Italy I’ve sucked at life so epically bad that most days I am embarassed to admit that I know me. It’s not Italy’s fault, we just have a lot of bad days together. I’ll admit, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, in a non-medicated way (and maybe that’s the problem), but I’ve always had enough positive experiences around me to kind of pull me up and dust me off. Here, not so much.I’m not a show my emotions on the outside person. I’m not. I don’t do vulnerable. Instead I do wine, cigarettes and jokes. So, living in a place away from everyone I’ve ever loved and known, and exposing myself in ways I never have before is hard. Exposing in the sense of letting myself look like an idiot all the time. I haven’t taken up the habit of flashing my vagina around town. Yet. Wait…art school. Maybe. (That’s another story. You guys have to hear that story because you will die.)
An example of this would be soccer. I played soccer growing up. I watch soccer pretty regularly. I know the game. So when I was asked to join a team for the Coppa at the EI I thought, why not? Of course I was nervous and out of practice but I like to think I’m fairly smart (denial) and athletic (lying to myself) and I assumed (wrongly) that I would pick it up fast enough. The question here is: Why? Why would I assume that?
I showed up to the pitch in my black running leggins, white cleats, and blue “dolphin” jersey with my husband who was so excited to be playing soccer with his wife. Honestly, in some ways I’m starting to wonder what is wrong with him. He maintains this naive confidence in me despite the fact that I always, without exception, let him down. We warmed up by hopping about before heading into the field to start the game. The game started. The only other girl on the team played first. After about ten minutes we switched. I was fine for about ten minutes and then suddenly something happened. My hands and face went numb, I was dizzy, and I couldn’t think straight. I remembered that I didn’t eat before the game, a fairly stupid move considering I’m kind of diabetic. When I’m at home and my sugar is low I’ll stare at the computer without moving, practically drooling on myself and hoping that someone else will put food in my body because I can’t think clearly enough to do it. This effect on a football field looked something like me, running aimlessly in circles, unable to remember who was on my team and who wasn’t, and incapable of focusing on the ball. Panicked I thought, “just play defense,” which didn’t make any sense when we were attacking since I was playing the striker position. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I couldn’t stop it.
This is basically what it looked like:
Afterwards everyone was avoiding eye contact with me, naturally, so I bought alcohol and tried to remind myself that my whole life is basically a series of humiliating moments so I shouldn’t be bothered by a small edition to it. But, it’s not easy for me to not care when it impacts him. I’ve never given a fuck before. Not one. But it’s really changed recently. My weirdness has had an impressive impact on Francesco. He’s lost friends over me, nearly lost his family because of me, his co-workers think I’m a fucking wreck. He went from looking kind of awesome to looking like a crazy person who married “that socially retarded and wholly uneducated American dipshit.” Once again I made him look bad. Does it ever end? I was determined to make it up to him at all costs. I WILL PREVAIL! I thought.
The next day there was another game and I was ready. I made sure to eat as much food as I could fit into my body. My mind was clear and I was actually feeling pretty okay. We arrived at the pitch, stretched, I wasn’t nervous or bothered because I was determined to make it better even if I had to actually kill someone from the other team. Game started. Game ended. I was not allowed to play. Which, was a very smart move because it was an important game and I fucked up royally the day before. If I were them I would have done the exact same thing (and I would have also beat me with a soap-filled sock). It was the right decision, only, I never got a chance to make up for what happened. Kind of a bummer that nobody felt comfortable to talk to me about how much I sucked. At home, my friends would have yelled at me, told me what to fix, and held me accountable (possibly with a beating) if I didn’t “man,” er, “lady-up” the next time. Here though, nobody wanted to criticize me, and it was easier to just prevent me from making any further mistakes. However, now I have to feel the burden of disappointing other people for like the next decade. I try to laugh it off because it’s kind of hilarious (only I could get myself into something so stupid.) Currently the only solution I have is to never leave my apartment again, avoid human contact and hope that Francesco will divorce me and find another wife immediately (at least he could find someone who cleans).
This is how living in Italy has changed me: I’m more subdued and self-conscious. As my friend Ryan asked, “Since when do you give a shit? I’ve known you for a long time and you’ve never cared what other people thought of you. You’re the same girl who used to tell everyone during puberty that something was medically wrong with them because all of their nipples were too pink because they didn’t have tan nipples like you. Seriously. Where is THAT girl? Where is my super bitchy friend!?”
She’s embarrassed and hiding from M.E.