Funny how going away from a place and then returning makes it feel more like home. I didn’t start shrieking “Rossiya! Rossiya! Rossiya!” when the plane touched down like the kid two rows in front of me did, but I was glad to be back.

We spent a good part of the afternoon in Frankfurt, since we missed our connecting flight due to a weather delay. Layovers are always annoying, but there are worse places to spend an afternoon. It’s a pretty nice airport, I recommend it if you haven’t been.

We flew Austrian Airlines on the way out and Lufthansa on the way back. I kind of had an expat identity crisis on the airplane, more so on the way out than coming back. An American on a German-speaking airline going from Russia to Italy. In what language should I say “thank you” to the flight attendant?

The identity crisis continued when we were in Italy. How do you answer the question “Where are you from?” For example, a conversation between me and a guy trying to sell me a leather jacket:

Guy: Where are you from?
Me: Well, the US, but I’m living in Russia right now.
Guy: What city in the US?
Me: Um, well, I’m from New York State originally.
Guy: What do you do there?
Me: Well, I don’t live there now. I live in Russia. I teach English.
Guy: You’re an English teacher in New York.
Me: No, in Russia.
Guy: Russia?!? What are you doing there?
Me: Um, teaching English.

Or on the outbound flight:

Woman, overhearing me and Aunt Kelly: Oh! I thought I was the only American on this flight!
Us: (smile politely)
Woman: Where are you from?
Us: Er, Upstate New York.
Woman: You’ve got a long flight home!
Us: We’re not going home. We live here. We’re going on vacation in Italy.
Woman: You live here? Oh my god.

Advertisements