Being the Coddled Daughter (or How to Use Your Privilege in Italy)

“But did you stop and buy Christina a coffee or something in between? A juice at least?”

We’re at the dinner table telling Alberto and Rosa about our latest bureaucratic adventure, hopping from line to line, building to building, hot mess to clusterfluff, when Rosa interrupts with this very important question.

“Well, no,” Renzo answers, the shame shower cowering his shoulders. “We had a lot to do, a lot of places to go…”

She tsk-tsks and shakes her head as if Renzo had forced me to give him my seat on the subway.

And you made Christina pay for her own tram ticket?!” she adds, after I made the mistake of saying I had an expired transit pass on the way home.

While I understand the place that this old-school chivalry slash babysitting comes from,  I’m looking forward to the day when I don’t feel like a 10-year-old only daughter whose adoption papers were just finalized.

For now, I admit that it’s easier feeling like this than fumbling blindly through a very bewildering transition. I fumble regardless, but in between the mishaps I have mini-triumphs that wouldn’t be so readily achieved without the help of a well-to-do Milanese and seasoned smooth-talker.

And let’s be real, I’m an educated white woman from the United States of America. I can only imagine the hell it would be to navigate this system without informed family or friends, without language skills, without money — especially as a non-white, non-Christian foreigner in a place where the far-right, anti-immigrant populist movement continues to gain strength. I may have left Trump territory but the same sentiments are festering in Italy and around the world.

Well, Rosa’s shame speech worked — the next morning as I walked into the kitchen, Renzo stops me in my tracks and declares, “We’re going out for breakfast; put the cereal away.” He buys me a chocolate brioche and coffee, and we wait on a bench in the sun (“Did you put sunscreen on, Christina?”) for 9:30 a.m. to strike so he can properly use his public transit card as we go take another whack at acquiring my marriage registration. He even offered me an orange juice in between appointments. “Vitamina C,” he informs.

2 thoughts on “Being the Coddled Daughter (or How to Use Your Privilege in Italy)

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