Cruising at 40,000+ feet above the Atlantic Ocean, I feel strangely at peace. Halfway between the two places I call home, I want to hover here for a while. It's the place where I don't feel torn, neither heading towards, nor leaving behind, the places and people I love. I can no longer say which one is home, and where it is that I am visiting. All I know for sure is, there are differences between the United States and Italy...
LAUNDRY: Point USA
Wash it, dry it and wear it, all in the same day! Winter months in Italy, I hang clothing out for a week to dry...and hope icicles don't form in the process.
FOOD: Point Italy
It's not just the chefs, but the quality of fresh, locally grown food that makes eating in Italy such a delightful experience. Thankfully, the convenience driven, fast food and frozen pizzas aren't to be found. Dinners last for hours, and the wine and food spoils me for any other.
FRIENDLINESS: Point Italy
I like friendly people... I am one! But, I am always taken back by the casual friendliness in the USA when I first arrive. From servers in a restaurant, to the dog walkers in a local park, everyone chatters a hello, how are you, and beyond. I prefer a little formality between people that aren't close friends. I like servers that have to be called to the table rather than popping in every five minutes to refill the water and ask how I am doing.
STREAMLINING: Point USA
Whether it's a line in the post office, self checkout at the grocery store, or ordering on Amazon, Americans have figured out how to do it faster and more efficiently. And, Americans understand the concept of forming a line, so everything runs a little smoother and with more organization.
ICE: Point USA
The Italians will tell you it's bad for digestion, but there is nothing better to me than a tall drink over lots of ice. Ask for ice in an Italian restaurant, and you will get one cube...maybe.
Each country will tell you it's the best here, and I call it a draw. I like the coffee equally on both sides of the Atlantic. There is certainly a bolder taste to an espresso or caffe macchiato in Italy, but, I am also a fan of a steaming hot mug of American coffee, or a travel cup to go. While a Starbucks can't be found, coffee for a single euro can be purchased on every corner in Italy. Hard choice here.
APERITIVO: Point Italy
Italy wins this one hands down! The US has never really embraced aperitivo time, perhaps because they eat at an earlier hour than their European counterparts. Full buffets begin to appear around 6:00 p.m. in Italy, and are included in the price of a drink. Order a glass of wine in the US, and you may get a bowl of peanuts on the table.
ATTIRE: Point Italy
I have to give credit to the Italians here, because the women will accessorize an outfit just to take out the trash. Americans will seemingly appear in their pajamas complete with UGGs/flipflops at the grocery store or to board a plane.
While I spend much more time in Italy than I do the USA these days, I comfortably embrace both cultures, both countries, and feel fortunate to do so. There is always the pull of leaving one, and the full welcoming of the other. To call two places home is to know that people are more alike than they are different, and we all smile in the same language.