December 11, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Another year

By |2018-03-21T19:03:52+01:00December 31st, 2014|"In the Sticks"|
Just last week I got into a fight with my fishmonger...

t’s my very last column for 2014 and I am at a loss.

A better writer would have pulled something truly prolific out of her nether regions by now.

A worse writer would have written a countdown of the last year’s highlights.

I am neither.

The space bar button fell off my laptop keyboard after I tried to clean some biscuit crumbs out of it, so I’m struggling to write anything at all.

And besides, I am consumed by one thought as the clock ticks down to 2015.

Many years ago, long before I decided to throw in my lot with my curly haired man-child, I envisaged myself floating down a river.

It wasn’t some camping nightmare, but my outlook on life.

You might think it’s strange that a 17-year-old cares enough to have an outlook on life. You might wonder why someone who grew up in a prosperous First World country would have such an uninspired outlook. Or you might just close the browser and Google “hamsters eating mini burritos” before I get too philosophical.

Whatever, just hear me out.

I have always been convinced that I am floating down the river of life, occasionally bumping into things that send me on my merry way down a different route.

That is not to say I believe in destiny or fate. I don’t. I believe in the fact that I am too apathetic to swim against the current. I hate swimming and I hate cold water, so why would things be any different in my fictitious, figurative river?

The year 2015 will mark my third living full time in Italy. It will also be a decade since I met my husband and started spending part of every year in the countryside.

You’ll have read enough of my columns to know I am not infatuated with la dolce vita. Don’t worry. The feeling is mutual.

Just last week I got into a fight with my fishmonger.

I was trying to buy some octopus. She was trying to understand my Italian. I was trying to find a way to get over the counter to kick her in the shins. She was trying to make things better by using baby language. I was slowly stepping backwards so I could get a running jump over the counter to really kick her in the shins.

Go ahead, roll your eyes.

I have studied Italian since I was five. My fluency is my greatest treasure. It’s what separates me from the other immigrants who are trying to get by in Italy.

It’s the only reason why I haven’t given up hope of achieving even the smallest portion of the success I could have achieved if I’d stayed in my own flipping country. Language is everything to a writer. It is everything to me.

To listen to someone belittle that is the equivalent of being punched in the chest.

I can’t go back to that fishmonger. It’s a shame because she’s the only fishmonger in the village and there’s only so much you can do with canned tuna.

But such is the reality of expat life.

No one cares that I am a 21st-century woman with an honors degree. I will forever be that foreigner who stumbles over a basic fish order with the finesse of a dancing bear.

With 2015 on the horizon, I don’t expect things to get any better. It would be contrary to my life outlook if I did.

A series of insignificant pushes and pulls sent me down this canal and I find I have no regrets.

Instead I am mildly curious to see what I’ll float by next. Maybe it’s the trappings of my slowly evaporating youth. Or maybe I am rushing head on into a mid-life crisis where I’ll become creepily obsessed with whatever the 2040-equivalent of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is.

I honestly don’t care. I have bigger problems.

My politically involved husband is having an affair… with my Coco Chanel Mademoiselle perfume.

He is obsessed with it. So are a lot of other men, if my frantic Google search is anything to go by.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am completely against perfume sexism, but I got a lot of weird looks from sale assistants as I tried to find a male equivalent for his Christmas present.

The thing is, my husband already has a very effeminate look about him. He is a haircut away from looking like my mother-in-law.

Oh, who am I kidding? He goes to his hairdresser because she voted for him, and she always gives him the same haircut. His mother’s haircut. I can’t hug him for a week afterwards because I feel like I’m getting intimate with Signora Serafinelli.

So as you can see, I am far too busy trying to mould my far too effeminate other half into the Tuscan version of Christian Grey.

Which reminds me. Whoever says Italian men are naturally stylish has a lot to answer for. Hubby just walked past in a matching jean shirt and pants combination that he believes is sexy as hell. He’s been wearing it every day for the past week.

So dear readers, don’t cry for me. I have plenty to keep me distracted as another year comes to a close.

I am a great Aussie battler.

I will blindly stick to my path convinced that something fantastic is just around the corner no matter how much evidence I have to the contrary. Plus I heard on the grapevine that a group of middle-aged women in town are planning on leaving their husbands for younger men and I can’t wait to see how that plays out.

For now, I’m content to float down the Arno. You might not agree with me and my mother sure as hell wouldn’t approve, but I’m not ready to drift across the Mediterranean Sea and into the Indian Ocean for home. Not yet.

So stay safe and happy floating!

About the Author:

Australian writer Elisa Scarton wrote the column "In the Sticks" from 2014 through mid-2019.