Thursday, April 9, 2009


Today is my 50th Anniversary. On this day, in 1959, I arrived at LAX with one suitcase containing four sets of clothes, a dictionary and one dollar. At the airport, I was told I'd be met by an uncle and an aunt who had promised my father they would take could care of me while I studied for the next four years. The TWA jet was late at LAX. It had stopped in Canada for fueling and was delayed because of weather. The stewardess, who spoke Italian and English didn't bother with the only two passengers on board. I assumed I had arrived at my destination and was about to get off the plane when she shouted something. Actually, I didn't understand much of what she said; I understood her gestures and her expression. It was the other passenger, an old woman who boarded the plane with me in Rome, who came to sit by me and translated the message.

She sat with me until we landed in Los Angeles. From Canada to Los Angeles she reassured me that in just a few weeks I would be able to understand everything. Believe me, she said, it will come to you, just as it came to me. She told me about herself, her shuttling back and forth from Italy to Los Angeles, spending winter in one place, summer in another. She had children all over the world. "You'll get used to everything, don't worry." Her words were reassuring. I imagined my life would be a bit like hers for the next few years; I could go to school for nine months and then return home in the summers.

When we landed, there was nobody to meet me. The kind lady asked if she could help. I told her not to worry, I was not scared. But I was. She handed me a piece of paper with her name and telephone number before she disappeared with a brood of children and adults who had met her. What a lovely family, I thought.

Two hours later, my uncle and aunt arrived. They had been on time, they explained; but the airline told them the plane was delayed; they left to get a bite to eat. It was late; I was sleepy and exhausted. We stopped at a drive-in and I had my first burger, fries and coke. I liked the coke.

Every time I have a coke I think of that first taste, the bubbles in my nose, the body aching, the fear of having been abandoned surfacing in my veins. That coke calmed me down that night. And it made that first summer bearable, when I realized that I was not going back home. It still does.

Coca Cola ought to pay me for this advertising!


Amy said...


I have a little bit of dampness in the corners of my eyes! What a simply beautiful story.

I've had the experience of leaving my home, but I can't imagine what it must have been like to cross an ocean and to be so far away from your loved ones and home. What a brave and adventurous girl you were!

Happy Anniversary, Lady! I hope you have found in these past fifty years, a sense of belonging and of home. I raise my Coke to you! Cheers!

Matawheeze said...

I'm a Pepsi girl myself, but toast you on your anniversary, my friend. THE USA is lucky to have you.

Helen said...

All of us have coming of age stories ... however, yours is more poignant than most. Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

I want to know more. This left me wanting to hear what next? What was before?

Thank you for your generous words to my blog!

I have very much enjoyed your writing and always look forward to what you will tell next. Now, tell us more!

Salut! My glass is raised to you and it is filled with a brown bubbly, tickle your nose drink, coke, of course!

Angela Recada said...

What a wonderful post. I have similar nostalgia for ginger ale, the first thing I drank when we stepped off the boat (yes, the boat!) in New York. Happy Anniversary to you!

Fire Byrd said...

What a bitter sweet story, thank you for sharing.

Siobhán said...

Lovely story - thank-you.
These are the stories that make blogs so wonderful.
I don't drink Coke often - but next time I do I'll think of you as that young woman arriving in the States for the first time.

marc aurel said...

I love that you brought one dollar. When I finally came to Toronto in 1973, I bought 40 dollars and the flight, a promotion for a new airline, cost 40 dollars. I love the way we never looked back and at the same time always look back.

willow said...

Happy American anniversary! I wish you had a fonder memory of your arrival. The Coke must have worked, because you are still here among us!

Man of Roma said...

Così la tua avventura americana è cominciata nel 1959. 50 anni, e quindi sei tu la prima generazione. Un bel racconto, che stranamente mi sembra di aver vissuto anche io, perché anch'io sognai tanto tempo fa di andare in America, ma poi non l'ho fatto. Troppe cose mi trattenevano qui.

Come facevi a sapere che non saresti tornata? Spero di non esseere indiscreto.

Un abbraccio!

Sarah Lulu said...

Many blessings on your anniversary.

You have left me wanting so much more of the story?

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Bravo, wonderfully brave Rosaria - And from such uncertain beginnings what you have achieved every day in what is ostensibly your second language should put us all to shame... Stupendo.

Mary said...

and these are the kind of adventures that build character. Loved the recount.

Where you heading to a university that spoke Italian? How where you going to understand the lectures?

Clearly you will have to share more (atishoo - bless me) ;)

Sink said...

I, too, want to know more! Tell! Tell!

What courage!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

This sweet tale of you as a young woman brings tears to my eyes. You were so brave to wait at the airport alone. Did you ever contact the older lady while you were in Los Angeles?

You'll have to tell us more about coming to America. Happy, happy anniversary! 50 years ... how great!

Natalie said...

Loved the story, Rosaria. I was also moved by it. Can you please tell us the next bit? Pretty Please???

Happy Anniversary and Happy Easter to you! xx♥

Renee said...

50 years ago Rosaria, almost my lifetime ago.

A gong should have gone off somewhere today so that I would have known.

I wish you had stayed in Canada.

What you have brought to your new country. All the children who have been blessed to have you as their teacher. How far so many must have gone in life because of a young girl who came to North America 50 years ago today.

You are worth gold and on your golden anniversary I want you to know that when I first came to your blog I discovered gold and that was because you were here.

Love Renee xoxoxo

karen said...

Thanks for sharing your story! I'm adding to previous commenters' requests for another installment sometime?

janis said...

Oh Rosaria! Happy Anniversary! What a lovely story, indeed. Once when I was 17, I flew to Texas on Christmas by myself. My uncle was to meet me, and was no where in sight. I tried to call his house, but only had a dime and twenties. Phone calls were still 10 cents back home and they had already gone to 25 cents in San Antonio! I started wandering around frightened in this airport on Christmas evening, and finally spotted him eating in a little eatery! He lost track of time! I was so glad to find him!
This is my husbands 51st year in the states but he has only been a citizen for 33 years.
Please tell us more about your journey 50 years ago!

Frankofile said...

Touching story, and photo too - I think you look slightly amused but more defensive. You're someone who has so much more to say than you are prepared to shout about. As you've gathered from my recent post, you're just the sort of person I can listen to. Tell us more, do!

Anonymous said...

This was a truly heartrending story, you have a great deal to give to us bloggers and I am happy to have found you. More please, Rosaria.

lakeviewer said...

thank you everyone for your comments and your interests. Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all.

Woman in a Window said...

Something so simple to anchor you and calm you. I like it. I like the photo alot, too.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on 50 years!...and I was just thinking that this post would make a great Coke commercial when I read your last line.

Mervat said...

This was a lovely recount of your emmigration to the US from Italy. I have immense admiration for you, for being on your own and for *making* it, for you truely have.

Thank you my friend.


Ribbon said...

Happy Anniversary beautiful woman,

Well I felt a little sad reading that.
I've returned home after 13yrs away, but away was still in my own country, just the other side of it.
Now I miss away and think about when I can leave again!

Best wishes Ribbon
and thank you for what you have shared here.

Ribbon said...

PS I love the photograph of you

:-) x Ribbon

Kikit said...

Happy Anniversay! When I left my country, I was fearful of the unknown, unlike you. I hope I can write something about it too.

Lola said...

I'm weeping. A young girl looking into the future, with her suitcase and darting eyes. An Italian belle, scared and alone in the monumental LAX terminal, no relatives in sight. Dreams and hopes, some met, some shattered. And that first sip of reassuring cola... This story is magnificent. I read the two Anniversary posts in inverted order, better that way. A cinematic flashback.

Rosaria, just think what you have brought to your new adoptive country. Think of all the kids blessed by your teachings. I know there's hordes of individuals who have traveled far in life thanks to that scared young girl who came to North America 50 years ago. You've come a wonderful way.

Happy golden anniversary, Rosaria. Ti voglio bene