by Melinda Gallo

Fitting in or at least not standing out

Lately wherever I go these days, I don't feel like I stand out any more. I walk into shops and don't feel like I'm being scrutinized. I can't remember the last time someone asked me where I come from. But now I seem to feel like maybe I've lost my luster and no one seems to treat me any differently or look at me any differently.

It all just happened all of a sudden, I think. When I go to the gym, no one seems to bat an eyelash at me. Some people talk to me, but no one has yet asked me where I'm from. When I go to the supermercato, like Co-Op, I don't feel like I'm treated any differently. Ci salutiamo (we say hello to each other), they ask me for my tessera (card) and if I want any buste (bags), and then we say "arrivederci."

It's odd how for so long, my nationality was so important to so many people and now all of a sudden, no one seems to care. Maybe I just feel like I don't need to prove myself any more. I used to feel that I had to prove to everyone I encountered that I spoke Italian because I felt everywhere I went I was being judged. I could almost hear their thoughts, "Č una straniera."

Today, I walked into a ferramenta (hardware store) and picked up a few items. The guy at the cassa talked to me briefly and I paid for my griglia (rack) and left. I went to the edicola (kiosk) to buy a few magazines and the guy whom I've never seen before didn't look at me any differently when I put my riviste (magazines) on his counter to pay for them.

It's not like I'm not that used to being treated "normally." When I go to the mercato, no one ever treats me any differently. I like the feeling that I don't have to answer questions about where I'm from as if I'm only here visiting when I actually live here. And, I like that people don't look at me sideways as if they're trying to figure me out. It's nice to just walk around and not have people treat you any differently--good or bad.

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