Monday , April 7, 2008
I had just had my morning wake up call with Michael when there came a frantic knocking on my door. I almost said “bedroom door” but I’ve been residing in the dining room. It was Maria, my Venezuelan college friend, with the exciting news that the polizia were at the front door. It’s 9am!!! I threw on clothes, ran a brush through my hair, straightened up my bed, and got out into the hallway to find the policeman already seated at the kitchen table in conversation with Maria’s mother, Luisa. Luisa speaks fluent Italian. Not much English from her, but fluent Italian, which turned out to be very beneficial for me in this case.
We had been advised that when the police inspect where you are living, it should at least look like you actually “live” there, and we were coached to say nothing about only being there temporarily while we file citizenship papers. When the police arrived, the little neighbor boy Thomas was out in the front yard playing, and was calling out hello to Luisa as if they were old friends. We thought that could only help us look like we were nice neighborly people.
The policeman at the kitchen table sorted through his paperwork ( here’s an aside for you - there was an oversized document for each one of us- I find paper sizes here in Italy to be quite fascinating. In America it had better be either letter or legal size- here it’s just about anything goes, from teeny tiny to mega size. I don’t even know what size these residency papers were, but they were huge, and when folded in half were still larger than our legal sized documents. ). He had papers for someone who was not in our apartment, so that got sorted out. He asked all of his questions of Luisa, looked at each of us in turn, didn’t go beyond the kitchen and then he left happily. The policeman could see that the utility bill for the apartment was in Luisa’s name, and he knew Maria was her daughter. He asked her who Isabella and I were and why we were there also. Luisa told him that I was a very good family friend she had asked to come live with her, and Isabella was a close friend of Maria’s. He asked if we intended to search for employment there, Luisa said no, we’re just “housewives” and students. He seemed perfectly satisfied, and away he went. Luisa ran to her bedroom to say a thank you to the saints whose pictures she has leaning on the window frame. Perhaps the candles we lit in church on Saturday evening helped. We think we’ve passed this “test” with flying colors.
As soon as he was gone, I phoned Mike. We both said, practically at the same time, we made the right decision about me not going to Venice on Sunday for that concert. If I had, I would have surely missed the Polizia’s visit this morning, and I would have had to wait probably yet another week for them to return for a followup inspection. The Gods again have been with me!
After the police inspection all of us in the house were hugging, laughing, and rushing to call Luigi, our immigration lawyer in Bologna. He told us we were now free to go, but Isabella and I needed to file papers for our permesso di soggiorno, we should first come to his office in Bologna to handle that. We needed that document filed because we both intend to stay in Italy. Isabella plans to be here a few more months, I want to be here much longer. The Venezuelan’s were headed on to Monaco and Nice for a few days, then Maria would return to England to university and Luisa and Andreas were headed home to Venezuela. They didn’t have a need for the permesso.
We all joyously packed up our belongings, threw away excess food from the fridge, and made our preparations for moving on. Isabella and I, along with Isabella’s mother Cristine, arranged a taxi at 1pm to the train station. When 1pm approached, there was more hugging, and tears. We all promised to keep in touch- and talked about how lucky we were to have shared this incredible time. In situations such as this, it’s more likely that someone would be totally difficult to live with. Not the case here. We somehow managed to just click. We’ll carry the memories of this week with us for a lifetime, and hopefully the friendships we’ve made also. The last thing we did was take a picture of the 4 of us in the house who are getting citizenship- Luisa, Maria, Isabella and myself. We should have set a timer so we could have included Andreas and Cristine as well.
The Almost-New-Italians: Isabella, Luisa, Karen and Maria