Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The feeling of home - Il sentirsi a casa

There is a feeling of "home" in every person. Each time I go to see my parents in Turin, I am filled with an incredible amount of joy each time I see the mountains below from the porthole.

Sono quasi a casa, sigh! - I am almost at home, sigh!

We finally land and I am usually greeted by a pale but unexpectedly warm sun and all of a sudden, I see the things that make me feel at home: the bright light coming from the courtyard in the morning, the light blue sky slightly dirty from the fumes of the city, the crying of the child and the grandmother talking just after that, the old lady that says "buongiorno signora!" on my way out of the condo, the mountains in the background behind the houses I am looking at, the jangling of the market, the smell outside the bakery shop in the morning, the bells ringing at the nearby Church, giving me a rough idea of the time, the friendly "buondi'"(goodmorning in piemontese) of the local tobacco shop owner. It is the same guy but with grey hair. He still remembers me and my grandmother.

As my friend Laura once wrote in her psychology thesis, knowledge, memories and affections are strongly connected with the places where we lived. I read her thesis while I was living in London. Turin had become a stranger to me and I had become a stranger to her. I remember thinking that I had grown into a different person and that my home town had changed from a shelter of  bigots to a multi-cultural city of unconventional people (more traveled, more knowledgeable and more open to new experiences). Yet, as my mother often says, "a volte l'apparenza inganna" (sometimes appearances deceive). When I was visiting my parents in Turin, although I remember trying to act as if Turin was still my home, as a matter of fact, while I was there, I was spending most of my time complaining:

What? There isn't a single store open where I can buy food at night?
Dirty old man! I can't believe I overheard the cheese guy at the farmers' market saying to his wife that I could be as tasty as some of his old cheeses!
Another pathetic communist talking about his rights to be on vacation for a month! Give me a break
Elegantly dressed men with sweat dripping all over their suits! Is it a sin to take off the jacket here?
"Aha, the technologies of these modern days!" High-school kid, do you realize that you are talking like an old man??

Each time I was visiting my parents, I was feeling as if everyone was getting on my nerves and on my third day in Turin I was already looking forward to flying back to London. Turin was no longer my home or perhaps it had never been. Yet, now and then, I was constantly searching for cheap Ryanair fares to go enjoy a weekend of aperitivi and cioccolata con biccerin in Turin. Perhaps my old friend Elena was right. My choice to abandon Turin was the best I ever made. I discovered the luxury of living in one of the coolest cities in the world (London) only two hours away from home. And I could always take a few days off to go home (and complain of course).

Living thousand of miles away from home (Boston) has made it all different. Not only it has made me realize why an old English friend was always calling me “the Torino girl”! when he was drunk and that Turin is indeed my real home, the place that has shaped my heart, thoughts and decisions. It has also made me realize that now it only takes a few encounters like these to produce tears in my eyes:




"Eh cara mia, all'estero cose cosi' te le puoi sognare!" (eh, my dear, abroad, you can only dream of things like these!), my mother used to say. Now, ten years later, I can't agree with her more.

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