What’s to Become of Me?§

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: June 27, 2011; revised: August 30, 2017; readers in past month: 620

Wendy Hiller as Eliza Doolittle
Trying to Fit In

I had not planned on staying in Europe so long. I was hurting after the hurricane and the divorce and had things to do related to my own personal development which I had started years before. I had unfinished business to conduct with myself. I had been unhappy with my life. I spent years trying to change my life and myself so as to be happy. I went as far as I could where I was living. I needed to relocate to a very different environment to progress. I needed to live in a different setting, as well as in isolation. Living in a foreign country, I am able to be amongst others and to be alone. It has been useful, but I could have left quite a while ago.

There are a couple of reasons why I have stayed much longer than intended, than needed. One basic reason is that I’m an object at rest. Without a motivation to move again, I saw no reason to return to the U.S. Occasionally, when I was inclined to return to the U.S., I remained because of the girlfriend. Before I separated from her, we had discussed moving to the U.S. together. It seemed the best of both my worlds to me. But before we could finalize our plans, she left me. Unwilling to make any major changes in my life while recovering from the end of a long-term relationship, I have remained in Italy.

It’s been over six months since my last relationship ended. I’ve tried dating a few women since, but haven’t gotten very far with them. It has been frustrating. There is one young woman with whom I have gone on a few dates; I’ved known her for a couple of years. I am hopeful that I will be able to establish a relationship with her. However, if I am unable to get on stable footing with her, maybe I should consider seriously leaving Italy. I have no reason to stay in Italy. Although I have no reason to move and I am fairly content here, maybe I should move in the hopes of improving my situation. Living without a plot has been useful and I wish to continue to do so. However, it might be useful to change the venue to start a new undirected plot.

Where shall I live, though? I have considered other countries, but can eliminate most since I have no interest in learning another language. Italian has been difficult enough for me. I’m not prone to learning languages. English suits me just fine. I could move to an English speaking country, but moving to anywhere in the United Kingdom or one of the other former British colonies does not attract me. That leaves the United States.

As I think about the U.S., I am reluctant to go backwards by returning to the suburbs of New Orleans. I prefer to move to somewhere new in the U.S., if I’m to go to there. There many interesting places on the west coast such as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, or San Diego. The problem with the west coast is that it takes so long to fly back to Europe. I would want to locate somewhere in which I could easy visit Europe a few times a year. The east coast is more convenient. There’s Boston, but I’ve lived in that area as a boy. I didn’t live in Boston itself, but in a small city (i.e., Peabody) about twenty-five miles north of it. Nevertheless, I’m reluctant to return to the Boston area. I could try New York, but I never liked that area much — not as a place to live. There’s Washington, which is a very interesting town, but since I’m not in government, I might feel more of an outsider. Certainly I enjoy politics, but I would be as a poorman looking into a shop window. For convenice of location, there’s also Atlanta. It’s a hub of Delta Airlines — I prefer flying Delta — and therefore a decent jumping off point for Europe and the rest of the U.S. However, it’s not a very interesting place for me: there isn’t the charm like I have in Milan.

More important than travel convience or other considerations is my concern for where I would be most comfortable, where I will have a strong sense of home. When I’m in the U.S., I feel comfortable in some ways. However, in other ways I find myself out of place. Although I was never fully attuned to the U.S. culture, I now feel incompatible with it since I have been living in Europe for a few years. I haven’t fully warmed up to Italian culture and probably never will. My American ways and perspective at times only make me indignant to Italian life style. I enjoy and embrace much of it, but have too much disdain. I sometimes hate being here. As I struggle in my mind about where I should go, as I long to find a place that will feel like a home, I recall some lines from Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion (1916). One of the main characters, Eliza Doolittle, having gone through the process of learning to speak well and having changed her ways to be a lady, is upset when her training ends and she realizes that she cannot return to her old life and she doesn’t know where she can go giving her new perspective on life. In speaking to the other main character, Professor Higgins, who trained her to be a lady, she says,

“What am I fit for? What have you left me fit for? Where am I to go? What am I to do? What’s to become of me?” Act IV, line 51 I know how she feels. I am no longer fit for the U.S. and am not fit for Italy. I desperately want to go home, but I don’t know where that is. When I’m in the U.S., I feel as out of place as Eliza Doolittle amongst the flower girls and other street workers in Covent Gardens where Professor Higgins found her. In Italy, I don’t feel as comfortable as I should to feel at home — perhaps I would given enough time, but I’ve been trying for almost six years. There are some aspects of me which I cannot lose. Am I forever to be an outsider? In becoming a citizen of the world, as Bogart would say, will I never find a home again? Where am I to go? What’s to become of me?