The Voyage to Ithaca

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My earliest memories take place in airports; in these recollections, I blink sleep out of my eyes as the hypnotic conveyor belt spins round and round. It is hard to remember where I was in those jet-lagged moments—America, where I went to school, or Italy and Greece, where I spent summers with my grandparents. Balancing these three identities, cultures, and languages was a personal odyssey and, unfortunately, a source of self-doubt and shame, something I struggled to shed throughout my childhood.

I have never spent a full year in one continent, nor a full day in one language. Summers were spent in countries and cultures completely separate from my life at school, where I was placed in English as a Second Language courses. At home, my family spoke in a clamor of tongues, often switching between two or even three in the space of one conversation. English, Italian and Greek became a babble whose syntactical untangling frustrated and eluded me. My tongue tripped over words, unsure if I sounded correct or if my accent came out right. Whenever I’d attempt to share a joke, I’d find myself being interrupted and corrected before I could reach the punch line.

These encounters silenced me. I longed for the mastery over language that would...

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