emotionally complicated

adriana suriano
4 min readJan 15, 2023

i have given the response of emotionally complicated to various people about my recent 2-week trip to Italy with my family.

i told my friend at work and she spends so much time with me she was like, “oh, i know how that goes. anytime my family goes on vacation with me it’s not a vacation.

“Yup,” i rolled my eyes as we sat and ate a very large charcuterie board with some very expensive very dry white wine from somewhere besides Italy.

i owed my friend for covering 2 weeks at the behavioral health agency we have spent the past 10 years together on the same team.

in the 19 years i worked at the organization i have only taken off once before for 2 weeks straight. It was when my mother passed away. i could not leave my dad’s side. he was about to turn 80 and all we did was cry.

my two friends that i lived with in graduate school text me happy new year and cannot wait to hear about your trip!

i thought why wait for brunch.

“It was emotionally complicated,” i type.

“Oh…” they both responded exactly at the same time.

for people who don’t know me, which is all of you, I am dramatic. i like to embellish loudly when i tell stories which usually makes me laugh. sometimes out loud. Most of us with trauma histories are good story tellers. It protects the listeners.

my emotionally complicated experience with Italy started before i was born 53 years ago. i am about to turn 52.

my father was a federal police officer in Italy. Kind of like the FBI here but with a uniform. He traveled all over Italy. He was gorgeously handsome and single. He would be eligible for retirement when he turned 40. he was 28. people respected him. gave him free espressos. free alterations from a woman who “wanted to me marry me,” my father remembers with a smile.

my mother was from a few villages away. she was gorgeous. she was a successful seamstress who made and designed clothes for a living. she was not interested in my father. my father as it turns out was not interested in her.

my mother’s father and brothers decided to move to America. My grandfather’s brother was living in Camden, NJ along with a lot of Italian immigrants. they were able to buy a small home and find jobs as laborers. My grandmother, mother, and her sister (my aunt) knew they had to follow.

My father did not want to move to America. He loved his single life and his job. He took pride in serving his country.

the story never quite made sense. My mother moved to America. My father wished her well. Then my mother wrote my dad letters although my dad was still allegedly traveling around Italy living his amazing life. my mother wrote him the story goes that she would return to Italy to marry my father.

there are black and white photos of the church and the cake and my mother so beautiful in white. my father sort of looked disinterested in his sharp suit.

then he was stationed in Milano. they lived in a beautiful apartment. my mother cooked and cleaned and lived very close to my aunt (my dad’s sister.) My mother was pregnant with my sister and as the story goes wanted to raise my sister with her mother and sister in Camden, NJ. not near my father’s alleged bossy sister.

My father felt forced to get on the boat to travel to America. He knew he would lose all respect from everyone if he let his pregnant wife get on a boat for a 2-week trip to America without him. So also, as the story goes, my father cried with his 6 siblings and parents until it was time to embark on the boat.

After we come back from our 2 week trip to Italy with my father, my sister, her husband, their 2 beautifully handsome sons, my husband, and me the year just started. 2023. how the fuck is it 2023 i ask myself as i am talking with my dad on our multiple daily phone calls.

“Adriana, I am depressed. This trip made me think of the life i never had,” my father’s voice breaks on the phone.

I think to myself. i am depressed too. thinking of the life i never had.



adriana suriano

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.