I had intended to celebrate the 100th post on this blog by taking it public. It has been private for several months, ever since we were in difficulties with Teresa in Saluzzo. My hope was that we could celebrate the 100th post by having Tony’s Italian citizenship officially recognized. No dice. But I’m making it public anyway. I’m tired of feeling like if people knew my thoughts they wouldn’t like me. They would. And it doesn’t matter anyway. My blog is a true story.
This has not been the best week as far as citizenship is concerned. Mainly, we have been getting more and more apprehensive that it would not happen before we left for our trip to the U.S in a week and a half. We were afraid that my long-expired tourist visa would be a problem at the border. Tony went with Carla to remind the Mayor to speak with Gianfranco on Wednesday, but it didn’t happen.
After Manila’s response came in last week, we concentrated all our efforts on San Francisco. Josie received an email last week from Ms. Stone, confirming that the consulate’s response had been sent to the mail room. However, Gianfranco had not received it by Wednesday of this week. Tony was finally able to speak with Ms. Stone yesterday. She said she remembered the fax, because it was accompanied by a thick stack of attachments. She had responded, but the response would take a few weeks to get to Chiusa Pesio, as it had been mailed, not faxed. And no, she couldn’t fax it. Hopefully, she didn’t mail a letter about how Gianfranco should not give us citizenship. The San Francisco consulate is not known for liberal interpretations of anything.
We tried calling the Honorary Vice Consul in San Diego, but were unable to reach him, so we did as his cell phone message suggested, and sent an email to his hotmail account. He wrote back very cordially that he could only really help in matters pertaining to the Los Angeles Consulate, and suggesting that we explain our problem in writing to the Consul General in San Francisco. We got to bed at 11:00.
In the morning, we determined to visit Gianfranco and find out why he had sent such a long fax to San Francisco that the response had to be mailed instead of faxed. He did not look thrilled to see us when we showed up. He just looked over and said, “there is not anything.” Tony just started talking, and eventually he came over to the window.
We explained our whole problem, mainly that we were afraid that if I left Italy to go to my brother’s wedding I would not be able to re-enter. He remarked (rightly) that he had told us it would be a problem in the first place. He said the consulates can respond in any way they please (Manila had emailed!), and that it had only been three months, after all. Three months! Gianfranco doesn’t live in our world. Three months is an eternity!
Eventually, he suggested that I leave the country for three months, and then return. What a very Italian solution to the problem. But actually, it would probably work. And when he said it, that which we had not considered suddenly sounded like the best way out of a difficult situation.
We already have plane tickets to be outside of Italy for exactly three months. From October 7 through January 7. Come to think of it, my passport doesn’t look so terribly bad, since we did leave Schengen territory in June to go to the Temple in London. I’m only a few weeks past three months. Bad, yes. But not inexplicable, especially with Tony’s receipt and the fact that we’re American and don’t really fit the profile for international criminals or dangerous drug runners. Also indispensible is the fact that our flight stops only in Chicago, not Munich or Frankfurt, as is typical for flights from Northern Italy. We might be able to explain our visa difficulties to an Italian border guard, since they are largely caused by Italian red tape. But I shudder at trying to explain them to a German border guard. We also know some Italians we can call if we get in difficulty (and all Italians have connections that can help them in case of the inevitable bad encounter with some branch of the government).
It just might work. And as we left Gianfranco’s office, we both felt as if a burden had been lifted. We just don’t need to worry about it right now. Things will work out.
The whole experience has given me some food for thought. Might we not learn from Gianfranco and his compatriots? Pacienza. Patience is a virtue, one not much cultivated in the culture from which we come. The Italian capacity for patience makes possible some of the beautiful things we love about Italy. Slow food. Emphasis on family time and relationships. Good balance between work and the rest of life. The amazing, indefatigable ability of Italians to not become upset if they were not able to accomplish the errand they just drove 30 kilometers and spent three hours trying to do.
Is it possible that we really do need to let go a little of our impatient American ways? Is it possible that efficiency is not the highest of the virtues? Is it possible that eventually everything will resolve itself, and our lives will not be ruined if we just have a little patience? Gianfranco and our other Italian friends have been very patient with us.
Patience, I think, is a component of faith. The Lord said to Moses when he was about to open the Red Sea, “Stand still, and see the Salvation of the Lord.” Stand still. Have patience. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Our anxiety and impatience may be traceable to lack of faith. Why, after all, must it all happen the way we envision it, and at the time we say?