While this learning process is far from over, I was pretty sure that transitioning back into my native mother tongue would prove simple. I was mistaken. Before I lived in Italy for 9 months I had never once had any issue ordering at a Mexican restaurant. But, since returning it is just one of the many things I struggle with. Now I feel like I should order in Spanish (another language I heard a lot of in Italy, but do not speak), thankfully my brain knows that while I may very well understand far more Spanish than I ever have I do not know it. What my brain seems to forget is that I do not need to thus switch to Italian to compensate for my lack of Spanish. So what happens is when it is my turn to order I think in Spanish, I begin to utter Italian and then I clumsily finish in English and end up just sounding incompetent.
Another fun side effect Italian has had on my brain is that whenever I need to call someone (anyone) I think the whole conversation through in Italian first, just to be sure I know how to say what I need to tell them in Italian. Never-mind the tiny detail that very rarely does the person on the other end need me to speak in Italian For example, this morning after having been home for over 3 months I needed to call to schedule a doctors appointment. Before calling, I thought to myself...
Vorrei un appuntamento con il Dottore. Ho anche bisogno di ottenere alcuni esami del sangue fatto.
This is highly unnecessary, but I do this before almost every phone call or important conversation. I have no idea why, habit I suppose.
Then there are the people I still speak to in Italy, I love chatting with them, they are beyond patient with my faltering Italian. The thing is after I finish talking with them I want to share about our conversation with my friends and family here, but that means I need to translate their humor and voice into English, and it just never seems to capture the truth of who they are.
It's a funny thing living life in multiple languages. I cannot imagine what it must be like for my friends who speak 3-7 languages fluently. I admire them greatly and would imagine that their inter dialogue is pretty amusing at times.