For months, I've been making jokes about my sister's big fat Italian wedding.
For years, it's been so easy to mock my culture, my upbringing, my family; with apologies to Nia Vardalos, I made some of those baklava jokes before she did. Mine just tasted like lasagna instead.
And yet... and yet... something changed this summer. For years, I've forgotten that being Italian, being part of an Italian family, being part of my Italian family is more than just a sitcom in the making, is more than just a giant pain in the culo. We roll our eyes at the clichés, at the long trestle tables covered in checkered tablecloths, at the giant gallons of wine and heaping platters of food and the hand-wringing if you don't eat more than your share. What we forget - what I forgot - to look at were the people at the table who, along with the eating and the drinking and the hand waving, love each other so fiercely, it becomes a tangible, physical thing in the air.
I spoke more Italian than English this summer, which is what happens when you play one of many co-hosts to fourteen family members from Over There. I started to think in Italian, started to accidentally drop single Italian words into English sentences. My 'maybe' became forsa and my 'yes, of courses' turned into a strident, confident certo!.
Italy won the World Cup, and a hundred thousand of us gathered onto one long street, screaming and waving flags and dancing with strangers, a whole ocean away from the party at Circus Maximus. My cousin, who flew from Italy the day after they qualified for the final, said he felt like he didn't miss a thing.
I was surrounded with people who cried with us when we cried about Frankie, even though they'd only met him a few times. They laughed with us, and ate with us, and slept in our beds, made us forget about the bad things for a while. I bonded with a cousin who reminds me - us, really - so much of my brother, that it makes us wonder about bigger things, things that are much larger than we are, plans that are orchestrated without our knowledge...
My sister got married, and 150 people sang That's Amore at her wedding, and they cried with us and they laughed with us and they drank wine and ate lots of food and danced the tarantella and had a freaking fantastic time, and in 20 hours it was over, and that was a whole month ago, but honest to God it feels like it was five minutes ago, because that's how strong the love was.
I can still hear it, feel it, taste it.
Tonight, the last of the fourteen are on a plane, headed back to Toritto, headed back to normal life, leaving us to ours. I wish I could remember what that feels like.
What on earth am I supposed to do now?
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