Every word, a spicy meatball. Every intonation, a perfectly prepared noodle. Every expression, a full flavored sauce.
I love the Italian language for the sake of it. It won't get me anywhere. It's not required of my job. It won't get me a raise. It won't help me explain how to clean bedsheets without bleaching the shit out of them to my housekeeper. It won't get me anywhere in any place but Italy.
But I don't care because I love it unconditionally. I love it because it's so easy to love.
Except for when I'm trying to learn it. Then my feelings are less like love and more like complete and utter frustration, like when you have a baby you love so much but the kid won't effing sleep and it's 4 am and still screaming it's head off and you've already fed it, burped it, changed it and held it.
I'm in the car every morning listening to Italian language CDs, trying to wrap my tongue around new words as I wind my way down canyon roads to work. I imagine people who see me at the stoplight. What the heck is she saying? I'm sure I look confused.
My current collection is a 10 CD set. I'm on CD 5. I listen to each CD twice. The first time through I want to cry. I just don't understand anything. The second time through I start to get the hang of it, which encourages me to move onto the next CD, which I listen to and go back to not understanding anything again.
It's a vicious little cycle.
Oh how I wish the language would open up to me. Like one morning I'd wake up and start speaking Italian and know all the words and how they are all put together. I'd walk into my coffee shop and order with confidence, "Cappuccino!"
For now, I drive with a furrowed brow and make funny faces as I try to pronounce the multisyllabic words.
Every time I want to give up, I think of my niece Grace. She is 4 years old. She is learning all the time. Just the other day, she learned new words, how to run the DVD player and how to take photos with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. And there are a lot of filters with that app! And that was just one day. I can't even cobble a sentence together with confidence in Italian yet.
Yet. It's a very important word.
I haven't given up. I'm getting back in the car and taking another spin with my beloved Italian. Why? Because Italy makes me glow:
Rome and I look so good together.