“Do you know how in every stereotype there’s a little kernel of Truth?”
DL pinches together her thumb and index finger to show how small the amount is. Sandy nods, eager to hear the answer to her question “If you could take one thing from your trip, one thing about the culture, or people, back with you, what would it be?” (DL’s been in Italy for the last month; hence, the profound lack of PP stories.)
“That’s a good question,”DL pauses, taking a deep breath, her concentration and attention to Sandy’s Italian Culture Question palpable in the Heaterized Sauna Air of Utopia. “I think I’d like to take that openness, that connectedness, that Italian Way of How Everyone is Welcome…..”
She pauses again, nodding to herself as Sandy and PP sit rapt in anticipation. But they get it. Italians have That Way. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is Family. Everyone matters.
It’s so embracing if that makes sense?
PP still remembers this about Italy even though she’s not been there for over 25 years. Those long dinners with piles of pasta, glasses of wine, miles of chatter—most of which she didn’t understand since she knew only about 5 words in Italian (Grazie, Gatto, Cappuccino, Gelato con panna--oh! That's 6!). But it didn’t matter. No one cared that she didn’t understand exactly what the conversation was about. She was there. She was laughing. She was eating (This was paramount)
And so now, when DL talks about this ‘stereotype’ of openness and welcoming in the Italian people, it makes perfect sense.
She goes on to tell the story of landing in the village in Sicily where her people are from. How over 30 members of her family were there at the docks to greet her. How they were so happy to meet her. Asking her why she’d come ‘back’: “D, everyone leaves This Place," one of her relatives had asked, "but you, you come back. Why?” And the great aunts had tears in their eyes, and DL is weeping too, and she tells them how she had to come back. That the place called to her. That her Artist Great Uncle was here. His art. His soul. His angel lurked in the Place.
And they all understood, even if they didn’t really have the ‘language’.
PP does understand this even though her entire life is about language and words and stories. One can be with people or be in a place and feel like it’s home.
And yes, while this might sound cliché or stereotypical, it’s true.
And so that little Kernel of Truth that DL so eloquently expanded upon for PP and Sandy this night has traveled back to Utopia.
Bella bella bella!