i was never the good Italian daughter. i was too Americanized. i wanted sleep overs with girlfriends. i longed to go to dances in middle school. i innocently wanted a boyfriend.

my mother’s nickname for me was american pie. she said it lovingly. almost in a sing song kind of way.

“my american pie. my american pie wants to fly.”

so i started sneaking out. meeting boys at our town’s library. crying until my eyes were bloodshot red. begging to be allowed to go to the school dance for an hour.

when i was in high school, i became an expert bad daughter.

when my mom found cigarettes in my purse, i told her , “mom, i was holding them for someone so she wouldn’t get in trouble.”

the staleness of cigarette smoke still on my index finger.

or the time i smelled of hard liquor so offensively, my dad wouldn’t let me in the house until i explained.

“dad, it’s hairspray. you know my hair is curly like yours and needs some hairspray to look good.”

at 48, i helped my dad take of my mother for several years before she died. last night on the phone i told my father,

“dad, i am going to take care of you now. don’t worry about anything.”

“adriana, you are a good daughter.”

i hang up the phone. i take a deep breath. i i can’t help but smile.

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.

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.