Living in Florence Living in Florence

The truth I tell

Thursday, March 10, 2005

People often ask me where I come from. I have learned not to say, "American" because they usually assume South American. So, I tell them jokingly, "Sono Californiana...non si vede?" (I'm Californian, can't you tell?). When I said that the other day at the market, a guy responded, "Hai perso la tua abbronzatura." (You lost your tan.)

The Italians I meet generally want to figure out why I look the way I look and how I speak Italian so well even though I have a non-specific accent. They soon find out that I'm not what they think. I'm not from South America and I didn't grow up speaking Italian. I'm Chinese and Italian from California and grew up speaking English.

Many people usually think that my mom must have come from China and my dad must have come from Italy. So, I tell everyone the same story about my parents: they are American and met in Los Angeles.

But, I don't tell them the whole truth. That I barely knew my dad, that my parents never got married, and that my dad never really acknowledged me yet to my face he told me I was his daughter.

I don't tell them that the most time I ever spent at once with my dad was the last few weeks of his life when Dave and I stayed up in Oregon and took care of him.

The truth is stark. It doesn't make people open up. It makes them run.

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