“Oh, Oh here –” said the young girl as she danced between helping and not helping a woman hoist her luggage onto the bus. “Oh no, go ahead sorry, sorry” she then replied, after the woman asked if she was sitting in the seat behind her.
I think that’s when I finally realized that I really was going to be in Columbus soon.
We were on a shuttle taking us to our airplane, the last one of the day. The girl’s voice could have been mine, her words my same words, yet the tone grated on me. An Italian would have likely looked at the woman and shifted over less than two inches without saying a word, the Ohioan was overly apologetic and superficially nice. And noticing something that 11 months ago was so natural to me proved I’ve been gone as long as it feels.
Yesterday was my birthday and I spent the day waking up at 6 a.m. for our early-morning flight to JFK airport, which would then bring us to Columbus. After 10 months and 15 days I couldn’t imagine a better birthday gift! February 1st I left America to move to Monza, Italy with my boyfriend. On December 15th I returned for the first time back to America with my brain stuck in Italian, my work left in Monza and my Italian boyfriend now my Italian husband.
Now I’m back “home” in Columbus, drinking American coffee, watching the snow fall and eating cinnamon rolls my mom surprised us with (when you leave they’re nicer when you come back, hint for all you college students out there!), straddling a cultural horse between my given culture and the one I’ve seem to so fully assimilate to. Reverse culture shock is new to me, but it’s clear to me now that I haven’t just married into a new culture, it’s become a part of me as well.