July 27, 2012

On Being From New York and Kentucky

When you're living in a foreign country, it's a common question in various settings. Mostly I say I'm from New York. This isn't exactly false; in most of my life here in Italy the from-ness pertaining to me that matters most is that I am a friar of the Capuchin province of New York (and New England.)

Most of the time it's too hard to say that you're from Connecticut. It's a hard word on the Italian ear, and you just end up saying that you're from north of New York anyway. I've found that with academic types I might be able to say that I'm from New Haven, but mostly I don't bother.

A not insignificant number of times when I've told a priest or religious that I'm from Connecticut they hear instead 'Kentucky' and start talking about Thomas Merton. Since Kentucky also has a New Haven, I suppose I could contrive an even more confusing conversation if I were in the mood. To cause even more trouble, I could try to explain how my first experience of religious life was the summer I spent as a volunteer at the Benedictine sisters of Floyd County, Kentucky, which is nowhere near the Abbey of Gethsemani.


JAB said...

Try telling an Italian that you are from Kansas. "Oh, Kansas City!" By the time you've explained that most of Kansas City is actually in Missouri, they've lost interest.

Martin Benedict O'Brien II said...

Being from Connecticut I found this post enlightening and humorous. Thanks for sharing.