This week Ron and the kids are officially Italian Citizens and have Italian Passports in hand. I have been recognized as being married to an Italian Citizen, although I had a hunch about that before this week!
My in-laws have never been to Italy and yet I see them everywhere. The way the ladies at the market move with purpose reminds me so much of my mother-in-law. I see her in the women walking in the piazza and how they hold their purses. I see her subtle movements in the many nonnas I have met cooking in various kitchens across Italy – how their wooden spoon is an extension of their arm and how they know every corner of their kitchen as they dance around obstacles while balancing dishes.
I see my father-in-law in so many of the men I have met. I see how he cares for his home as the original do-it-yourselfers do all over Italy. I see his prowess at cribbage and all card games in cafes tucked all over the old country.
I see how both of them stop whatever they are doing, and take time to talk and connect when someone stops by for coffee. They never seem rushed although they are very busy and productive citizens. They always make time for family.
Citizenship, I have realized, is about recognizing and documenting a culture that already exists within us.
While the papers are proof, the real evidence has come from what we have witnessed this year and who we have been all along.
Culture defies political boundaries. It is carried through generations of immigrants and it withstands geographical changes. If I had never stepped foot on Italian soil, I don’t know if I would have ever understood what it means to be Italian and how much of it is already present in my husband, his family, and our children.
Our next journey is into my family heritage. We hope to traverse the verdant cliffs of Ireland and the blustery Scandinavian fall. Will I find people as adept as my Irish grandmother at transforming meat and potatoes into yet another dish? Will I find other old salts in Norway and Sweden who find the smell of fish for breakfast as tantalizing and my father and uncles?
I am so excited to discover aspects of my heritage that I never attributed to culture, before now. The Mariotti’s are Italian-American and a few other things we are off to discover.