Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lost in Translation


A friend of mine got a job and worked in Italy over the summer at this architecture firm. She found the job at the very last minute, was very uncertain as to whether to accept the opportunity or not, as originally she wanted to stay in the US. But she finally caved in, seeing as there were no other offers, and decided to go to Italy - knowing almost no Italian at all.

When she returned home in September, the first thing that she told everyone about was her very new, very Italian, very non-English speaking boyfriend. She was head over heels in love, though her Italian, according to her own accounts, hardly improved at all over the summer. She told me that it was very difficult to communicate with the guy, but she was willing to take Italian classes during the school year to improve.

She also told me that she was willing to relocate to Italy for permanent residence after finishing school in June. I believe, the M-word (marriage) was dropped in the conversation a couple of times. And as fantastically romantic as this whirlwind relationship sounded, I could not help but ask myself if my friend and the Italian had anything more in common than the commonly-shared infatuation with each other's foreign accents.

Being in a long-distance relationship is tough, but being in a relationship with someone who doesn't even speak your language is... foolish? I bit my tongue, of course, and kept my skepticisms to myself. There is nothing you can do or say to get a person to fall out of love, I knew that much.

The Italian boyfriend flew out to the United States to meet the girl's family over Christmas break. My friend was very excited as she was certain that this visit would solidify her relationship with the Italian and take things to the next level.

Instead, the visit put everything in question. I suppose, I will never know the whole story but it seems as though my friend's family was not too crazy about the guy and the guy was not too crazy about the potential idea of moving to the States in order to be with my friend, even though initially my friend was more than willing to relocate for love in order to be with the Italian.

A part of me wonders if I would ever be capable of falling in love with someone who does not speak my language at all. Is real, genuine love even possible when all the attraction is based on looks and giggly moments of trying to communicate with each other despite the language barriers over a bottle of wine?

Sure, it sounds like fun for a fling. Rachel, from Friends, had a great FLING with an Italian guy she met during the blackout in her apartment building. But, ultimately, no matter how amazing the sex was, she chose Ross at the end. She simply got bored of smiling as a primary form of communication.

My friend is no longer sure if she wants to leave her family and friends behind and move to Italy to be with the Italian, the M-word is no longer mentioned during conversations. In fact, she is not sure if she can continue the relationship for much longer.

But I almost feel like saying, "What relationship?"

Sounds to me like it was just a summer fling.

7 comments:

P said...

I've never really had a summer fling myself but it definitely sounds like that rather than love. I think the thing is though that when you are in a foreign place and falls someone, it just is so much more intense perhaps. Or seems so? So you think you're in love when you're not.

And obviously the penny is starting to drop.

That's just how I see it though - it could be wrong!

Fluffycat said...

I think that it's possible to be more romantic because you don't really understand each other, but when things come down to it, hard to manage. I think often men and women speak different languages already, and much less putting some Italian in the mix.

Sounds like a good story your friend will have to tell her kids (fathered by someone else of course).

Early Bird said...

I fall for guys that I'm able to have extended and intellectually stimulating conversations with. I have no idea how I could fall for someone who I didn't share a common language with!

Anonymous said...

Keep on posting such themes. I like to read articles like that. By the way add more pics :)

stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephanie said...

Maybe it's different for Americans, because you only have to know your own language and others will follow.
But in Europe we have maybe a slightly different mentality, due to our mix of languages on a relatively small surface.
I know several people who married italians and both parties learned to speak the language of the other. I myself married a frenchman (no one is perfect ;) ), my colleague a brazilian lady and so on...

My point is, if you really are in love with someone, then you make sure that you learn his or her language. you just don't let that come in between the two of you. it's as simple as that. :)

stephanie

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