L’ITALIA ED IO   (Italy & Me)

By Mary Lapidus

L’ITALIA ED IO  (Italy and Me)

Hello and ciao. I suppose that the first thing to do in this is to simply introduce myself. My name is Mary Lapidus, and I grew up in the small town of Simi Valley, California. Despite where my person has been however, I think that my mind and heart have always been just beyond the horizon.

I believe that the first time I truly aspired to, and got over my (believe it or not) fear of learning a language, was when I was first introduced to the Japanese animation style called “anime”. After being simply blown away by both the traditional and modern/pop culture of Japan, I began to learn Japanese. It’s a beautiful language, and I truly enjoyed learning it. I’d get the most nerdy excitement whenever I learned a new phrase, however, after a while of not having anyone to speak to in Japanese or being able to go to Japan (which, with the prices of airfare, is still a looong way off!) I gradually became discouraged and gave up on the language due to a sort of “loneliness” with it, in combination with its general difficulty.   italian book

However, despite my temporary crestfallen state, that desire to learn another language was still there, and I still had that (very nerdy, mind you) “fire” in my heart to do so, but I hadn’t a clue where to turn. Until one day, that is. I was being driven home from middle school in my grandmother’s old white Chevy when I heard the beautiful opera voice of Sarah Brightman resonating throughout its dark interior. Her voice in accompaniment with the beautiful orchestral arrangements that only further enhanced the music always made me smile, and hearing the song that she is arguably the most famous for “Time to Say Goodbye/ Con Te Partirò” brought back the most wonderful memories of my car rides home from elementary school. I never knew what the lyrics meant, but what I did know was how beautiful they sounded, and how the songs lifted my spirit even after a long day of being bullied by a multitude of contemptuous children. So, in the back of my head I had made up my mind. I was going to learn Italian… someday.

Well, mother nature, God, or for all I knew the Tooth Fairy knew that I wasn’t (and I still admit that I’m not) the type to get off of my lazy tuckus without a passionate drive to do so. So, it looks like whomever it was decided that it was time for me to move. But nevertheless, I pushed on and… no. Moving sucked. Period.

I found myself in a new high school, my freshman year, all alone. Might I add, trying to act cool and collected as you lean against a cold wall trying to avoid a rather horrid piece of pre-chewed (or as my grandfather calls it “A.B.C gum”) is not a preferred pastime of mine. Nonetheless, after about a quarter into the school year, I acquired a nice group of friends and also discovered the Multicultural Club. At which, I met a rather extraordinary girl who I’m still good friends with: Beatrice.

Beatrice was a foreign exchange student from the northern area of Italy, and you could tell just by speaking with her. The second she said hello, you could tell because she had the most beautiful Italian accent! From that very first hello, we soon became good friends. So, out of an ever-growing curiosity about Italy thanks to Beatrice (combined with the remembrance of that goal I had in the back of my head), I began to look into learning the language, and really began to feel the excitement of learning Japanese all over again, but with more ease and firm commitment. I felt more attracted to the country itself rather than mainly the pop-culture of it all. However, I think more than anything, Beatrice showed me how kind that the Italian people are in general. wood fire pizza oven

My fondest memory of Beatrice was when I went over to her host family’s house for a sleepover. I was on my very best behavior and, low and behold, I awoke with an awful cold the next morning. How rude, going to someone’s house sick! Bringing disease into someone’s home… but that’s not how Beatrice reacted in the slightest! I remember that I was the last to wake up in the living room, with the rest of her family (herself included) all gathered around the television to watch a movie. I felt embarrassed to say the least and I sat up immediately, apologizing for my late wake up. The second that Beatrice realized I was sick (characterized by my sudden need for mass quantities of tissues and sneezing) she told me to sit down and relax and off she went to the kitchen. She made me the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. From scratch. On the Stove. That wasn’t all, either. She then made me amazing French Toast and kept asking me at least five times over if I wanted more! In short, Italians can be some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, I still can’t be sure if it’s their culture or what. However, I am absolutely positive that every Italian that I’ve met has been so kind to me and also have been wonderful friends. Oh, and they are amazing cooks.vintage piaggio scooter

Well, fast-forwarding a bit, I am now working towards fluency in la lingua italiana (the Italian language) and have multiple friends from Italy via the internet. In addition, aside from Beatrice, I have a pen pal who I speak with often who loves America just as much as I love Italy. It truly is a wonderful experience, sharing your culture with someone, and even moreso when a friendship can make the time doing so that much more exhilarating and special. I plan on visiting Italy as soon as I can, and truly can say that Italy has given me something to work towards and reminded me never to give up on my goals. Oh, and it also caused my newfound addiction to Pan Di Stelle. Google it.

Grazie mille per la lettura di questo, e forza Italia!

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