I woke up on one of the first actually-independent days of my semester. This was my life now, I thought. This is what you wanted. Parents were gone, tourist obligations were done, the niceties of orientation had faded… Okay. Okay. …Okay.
“So, do you like pasta?”
I blinked. I realized I had been pacing the sunlit living room when the voice of Chiara, my live-in RA who was born and raised in Milan, gently tapped me on the forehead. She was standing there with a half-bemused, half-you-shouldn’t-disturb-a-creature-in-the-wild face; she’d probably been watching me for a while.
“Uhh… Yes. I mean, IcametoItalyofcourseIlikepastahahayeahIlikeeverythinghaImeanit’sItaly, haha.”
I rant when I’m nervous.
She wordlessly swept into the kitchen and started… to cook my breakfast. For me. She was cooking it for me. My misplaced American reverse-ego and panicked Filipino good-guest genes shoved me skittering into the kitchen, waving my arms around like a dodo bird, and I sounded something like, “NO youdon’thavetocookformeitsfineomgnoit’stotallyokay!”
“Oh. Do you have other plans?”
“Do you not like pasta?”
“Aren’t you hungry?”
She raised her palms incredulously, like she was holding out two trays.
“Okay. We eat.”
I didn’t really know what else to do, so I took pictures.
Cause that didn’t add to my weird-American antics.
I spent the rest of the semester trying to use my Made-in-the-USA values of independence and etiquette to fight Chiara’s… logic. I lost a lot. She cooked many meals for me and always laughed when I tried to resist but seemed to have no good reason why. I blushed my way through many pestos. I included her laundry with mine whenever I could. It was hard to shake off feeling like a perpetual guest — Chiara seemed to want to always move past that, cause what does it all prove, anyway? Doesn’t it just waste a lot of time?
If hospitality is logic, than what reason do we have for the distance that “good manners” create?
Verbal Vomit Project Regurgitation: