When I was two, my brother and I had a nanny of sorts – Nadia. She took music lessons from my mom and spent a lot of time with my family. Because I was so young, most of my memories of her are from old home videos and stories from my parents, but she has always been an important person in my life. Sadly when my family moved from Virginia to New Jersey a couple years later, we fell out of touch with Nadia and her family. After a certain number of years, it felt almost awkward to reach out again; so much time had passed with no contact, my family didn’t know where to begin with trying to reconnect. Or at least we didn’t, until I came to Rome.
Although we met Nadia in Virginia, her family is from Italy and they moved back a few years after we moved to New Jersey. One night this summer while my family and I were planning their trip to visit me, my mom casually asked if Nadia was still living in Italy, and with that, the search for Nadia began. I wish it was a little more dramatic for the sake of the story, but after a quick Facebook search, we found her almost instantly (gotta love modern technology).
Flash forward to this past weekend, and my family found ourselves driving from Rome to a small town near Senigallia to reunite with Nadia and her family. I was excited beyond belief to see Nadia again, but I was a little anxious because of all the time that had passed. However, the moment we were welcomed into Nadia’s home, all of the anxiety dissipated. We spent the weekend catching up about the past 16 years, getting to relive experiences over with each other, and reforming a bond that never truly disappeared.
Nadia and her family live in a small town where the houses seem miles apart and have backyards of fields and mountains. Having the chance to visit them brought me to new parts of Italy I wouldn’t have explored on my own. We spent one morning in Corinaldo, a small medieval town, and a night in Senigallia, a city on the water. I’m already planning a trip back to Senigallia as the city hosts an annual Summer Jamboree, which is a ode to 1940s and 1950s America. Supposedly, it’s one of the most incredible festivals in the country – a couple of the Beach Boys went last year.
Halfway through the weekend, Nadia’s father decided he was only going to speak to me in Italian, putting my Italian skills to the test. Luckily, Nadia’s mother gave me some valuable advice for speaking Italian in the form of three words: “Grazie, dunque, allora.” Apparently, these words are the key to being able to muddle your way through any Italian conversation. I have a feeling dunque is going to become a regular part of my vocabulary as it roughly translates to “I’m thinking.” So, no matter what’s happening in a conversation, I can respond with “dunque” and seem like I’m pondering what was said, even if I have no idea what’s going on in the conversation.
I spent a lot of the weekend hanging out with Nadia’s kids, which was surreal at times since they were about the age my brother and I were when Nadia babysat us. Finding our way back to Nadia was truly an unforgettable and unimaginable experience for my family. However cliche this may sound, this trip, and more generally my whole experience abroad, has been a constant reminder that the world is interwoven in beautiful and mysterious ways, and I’m so grateful for all the people I’ve connected with (or re-connected with) throughout my time here.