Last night my Mom hosted a little shindig with some of our closest friends, hers and mine. I’ve mentioned before how we’ve moved around a fair bit, and although I lived in Houston for nigh on twelve years it just so happened that many, if not most, of my friends moved around a fair bit too. The result of all this moving and shaking is that I have very, very few childhood friends.
But yesterday I got to spend the evening with some of my best friends in Houston, some of which I’d lost contact with for a few years and others that I’d kept up with despite the distance in both time and space. It made me feel like a whole person again and yet it made me feel all broken apart too. Each of them had an anecdote, a memory of my family, of the person I was before the person I’ve become. And I wonder what they see now. Am I still some version of the girl they knew? Or have I morphed into a completely different human being?
I’ve only been here a week, and yet, I’ve already started getting a bit melancholic for the life that could have been. I’ve always suffered from the “what ifs”, and now, now that my family’s changed, now that my mom lives here permanently again, now that (due to the husband’s health situation) I likely never will live here again, now I feel them more than ever. What if I hadn’t gone to Italy for University, what if I hadn’t married the husband and stayed there, what if I’d come home sooner, what if he hadn’t had leukemia, what could have been of this life I live?
When you grow up in a multi-ethnic household, when you live here and there and everywhere you end up always feeling a little lost. I’m not Italian, I’m not Brazilian, I’m not American, I’m a little bit of everything and a little bit of nothing and it’s hard to stick a definition on it. It’s hard for me to stick a definition on myself, it’s hard to find something that fits. I spend so much of my time in Italy daydreaming about coming to America, about coming home, that it surprises me that when I finally get here I could possibly be so adrift. All the insecurities of the child I was, the child that arrived from Italy, with her loud, vivacious, oh so Italian father and her exotic mother, the child that spoke with a heavy British accent, that struggled to fit in, all those insecurities of years spent never really fitting in come rushing back to the surface.
Starting the year like this frightens me. Always wondering if I’ve done enough in the past, if I’m doing enough right now, if I am enough as I am, it’s tiring and scary and very, very unsettling at my age. Am I pretty enough, am I thin enough, am I elegant enough, am I intelligent enough, am I interesting enough, am I well-read and well-bred enough, am I loving enough, am I compassionate enough, am I patient enough…. I could go on and on and on, and the answer to most of those questions is no.
It’s a little bit sad and a little bit startling to me that when faced with the ghosts of Christmases past the thought that underlies all my emotions, my words and my actions, at the end of the day is am I good enough? And I don’t like the answer.