Don’t Know Much About History

This question of history is one I’ve been puzzling over for the past few months. It is more than an academic question for me. In fact, it turns out to be both personal and practical. Who am I, after all? What are my roots? Where are my loyalties? To whom and to what are my duties? For the less peripatetic, perhaps these questions are easily answered. Indeed, probably there is something pathetically lost about asking them at all. But I cannot help asking, because I possess, as yet, no clear answer.

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Never Expect it the Same Way Twice

Productivity for us here in Italy seems to be more a product of serendipity than careful planning. It’s not that we don’t plan exhaustively. But sometimes things turn out better when we just go with the flow. Our internet has been grinding to a halt fairly often lately. We can get reliable dial-up, which us O.K. for email and other more basic tasks. But we cannot send large attachments, and forget about Skype calls (we don’t have a home phone, and we’ve been trying to set up quite a lot of things for our trip to the U.S.)., or web-conferencing.

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Chiusa Aperta

We were part of the action last night. Chiusa Aperta is the traditional annual village festival in Chiusa Pesio. We arrived 45 minutes late because we had been eating pizza at our favorite little pizzeria in town. Tony and I like the vegetarian pizza, which changes with the seasons. It still had zucchini and eggplant, but the red peppers had been replaced since last month with green beans. Green beans on a pizza? Yes! It was excellent. Axa’s favorite pizza is margherita, which is just tomato sauce, mozzarella, and oregano. She tried some of ours, but in the end she just picked off all the vegetables, so her piece ended up margherita too.

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The Importance of History

Tony woke me up at 6:00 a.m. this morning. “Sarah! Sarah!” I rolled over and looked at him blearily. “Domenico wasn’t Italian. He was French! I’ve been up all night worrying about it, and then I got online and saw a map. The Duchy of Savoy was up in the mountains, and the French just went around and conquered the plain. Everybody wanted the plains of Piedmont.” By now, sleep had fled.

It couldn’t end this way. Domenico had to be Italian. Could it be possible that we hadn’t thought of one crucial detail? We got up together and went out to the living room. It didn’t take too long to find a map showing Italy in 1815. Italy as a “geographical expression,” or more a collection of small kingdoms and duchies.

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Una Idea Grande

We spent a long time preparing for this morning’s meeting with Gianfranco, and it essentially went just as we had hoped. We popped in at about 11:30, and Tony announced, smiling broadly, that we had come up with an “idea grande.” Then he turned to me so I could explain that we’d gotten email addresses for all the consulates, and thought we could contact them so they would respond to his faxes.

Gianfranco replied that all had responded but two. Manila and (of course) San Francisco. To be fair, San Francisco the most work to do to confirm that nobody renounced citizenship, since Tony and all his ancestors lived in multiple locations within the consular jurisdiction within a space of over 150 years. I only hope San Francisco doesn’t choose to meddle in our case, since by their interpretation of the law, only people born after 1912 can claim citizenship. He gave us copies of his fax, so we’ll be sending off the emails today.

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Il Ministro

On Monday we showed up at the Comune with homemade cheesecake brownies for Gianfranco. He showed us a responses from the Los Angeles and Chicago consulates to the effect that Tony and his ancestors have not renounced Italian citizenship. That was the good news. Then he said that as soon as all had responded, he would forward everything to the “Ministro,” and “we will see.” Now I’m left to wonder why he feels he needs to send the documents to the “Ministro.”

He failed to specify to which Ministry he needs to send them. As far as I know (i.e. according to detailed reports of others involved in their own jure sanguinis adventures), the Comune is supposed to make the final decision and declare the applicant officially Italian. And I gather this is supposed to happen immediately after receiving notification from each and every consulate. Nobody has mentioned their paperwork being sent off to some nameless central office. I fervently hope that Tony’s papers will escape such a fate, since here in Italy at least, that would mean months, if not years, of waiting with nobody to take brownies to.

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Chocolates, Take Two

Tony got all dressed up yesterday and went down to the Comune to ask Gianfranco how things are going for his citizenship. He took Axa with him, but Raj and I stayed home, since Raji has finally come down with the chicken pox too. When Tony arrived, the Mayor happened to be there, so Tony greeted him on the way in. Then he delivered some nice chocolates to Gianfranco.

The chocolates were genuine Chiusa Pesio artisanal chocolates, made by a charming lady and her daughter in the only chocolate shop in town. She gave us all samples, and then put an assortment of chocolates (artistically arranged, of course) on one of those attractive little gilt-paper trays they use for sweets here. Then the chocolate-maker selected a pink sugar rose to go on top. She wrapped the whole thing in cellophane, and then spent a while deciding which color of ribbon should go on top. Later she added an intricate little paper flower, and finished it off with another, different-colored bow. It ended up quite a presentation. And she didn’t even know we were taking it to the man with power over our citizenship!

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A primer on citizenship

My inner country mouse had the upper hand yesterday evening. We took our nightly walk over a route recommended by Giorgio, our host here. It began on a classic quite lane framed by tall trees, and then hugged the forested hill for two or three kilometers, looking out over fields of freshly cut hay and little farms.

I tried to think why agricultural land is so much more attractive here than in my native country. Partially, it’s because everything is Lilliputian by comparison. Small farmers are the rule, perhaps because the land has been in the same families for generations. Looking out over the gently rolling plain, one can see quite a few yellow houses, each surrounded by a little collection of fields with various crops, and perhaps a quaint old wooden fence enclosing a donkey or some chickens.

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Consider the lilies of the field

This verse came up in my scripture reading this morning. 3 Nephi 13:28-30 (and Matthew 6:28-30). “Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, . . . even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.” He has clothed us and fed us and taken care of us in a multitude of ways here in Italy, as we are learning to do it ourselves. And if sometimes he hasn’t clothed or helped us in exactly the way I would have chosen to do it myself, perhaps the lilies didn’t choose their raiment either.

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Curiouser and Curiouser

Wonderful Alicia called Bruna at the Centro Migrante yesterday. Bruna confirmed that there does not exist a Permesso di Soggiorno that I can get, but that it’s not a problem, since in a few months Tony will be a citizen, and then I’ll be able to apply as the wife of an Italian. She even called the Capo di Polizia (Head of Police) at the Questura, and he said I should just stay without Permesso di Soggiorno and apply when Tony’s citizenship is recognized. He said there’s no way I will have any problems because Tony’s applying for citizenship.

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