It happens every so often that people contact me for advice on this or that aspect of moving their family abroad. I always try to help if I can, since I have asked for and received help and advice on this topic from so many generous people around the world the least I can do is pay it forward. So when a year or so ago I was asked to share some of our story in a how-to book on moving abroad with a family, I was delighted to oblige. My copy arrived just this week, and it was a lot of fun to page through it and remember some of the crazy and fun stuff we’ve done.
Well, the road to true love never did run smooth. Which is the ongoing refrain of this decade-long quest for Italian citizenship. As I mentioned several weeks ago, I did submit all my documents using the Italian Ministry of the Interior’s online application process. Not having heard from them in a while, and being concerned about the six month document expiration rule I mentioned before, I emailed the extremely helpful Adrianus at the consulate, and politely asked how things were going.
Almost ten years ago we moved to Italy specifically for the purpose of claiming Italian citizenship for Tony via a process called jure sanguinis (by right of blood). In fact, that was the impetus for starting this blog in the first place: recording all the wacky and frustrating and occasionally miraculous things that happened along the way.
Several months, dozens of official stamps and seals, and many scoops of stress gelato later, Tony and the kids officially had their Italian citizenship recognised. And I was immediately eligible to apply for Italian citizenship myself as the wife of a bona fide Italian. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards our business failed, and we went through several rough years of financial instability, as well as some health issues, punctuated by various moves domestically and abroad.
I thought I was all done writing about getting Italian citizenship on this blog. But of course I’m not, because even though I did most of the work for the rest of the Familia, who are lucky Italians-by-birth, to get their Italian passports, I don’t have a single Italian ancestor. I know this because for Mormons genealogy is a religious imperative, and members of my family have been tracing our roots back to the Middle Ages since before I was born.
Well, while we’re on the subject of announcing major life changes, I should probably let you in on where we’ll be moving next. Hint: our destination is neither U.S. nor subtropical. Because let’s face it–we have now lived in Florida for 2 1/2 years, which in Familia time is about two decades. By the time we leave, we will have lived in Florida for over three times as long as we’ve ever lived anywhere else. Oh, the ironies of life. The weird thing is, I think my internal clock is set according to moves rather than time in any specific location. So I don’t feel like more time has passed while we were living in Florida than Tunisia (8 months) or Ireland (3 months). I’m not sure what that says about my existential state.
If only the world would listen to me. As he mentioned in the comments this morning, Tony did call Tunisair to confirm our flight. They said everything was fine. And when we arrived at the airport, our flight was listed as on-time. In fact, they didn’t get around to changing the flight status until it was already past our 16:35 departure time, and there was no sign of the plane even landing, let alone anyone boarding.
Our first clue about the trouble should have been that while we were standing in line to check in, the Tunisair staff told the front of the line something that caused a massive stampede over to another check-in desk on the other side of the room. Fortunately, Tony and I are old hands at making the most of a Tunisian line (because if you don’t make the most of it, you’ll stay at the back no matter how long you are in line, as everyone else somehow worms or pushes past you). As we normally do in these types of situations, we split up with one child each. He and Axa strategically maneuvered toward a good place in the now amorphous original line, while Dominique and I joined the stampede.
Yesterday we went to the Tunis airport to rescue a package from the catacombs of customs. Eventually we lost count of how many times we went from office to office, collecting and relinquishing slips of white, pink, and yellow paper. When the long-awaited moment for recovering the package finally arrived, we were in suspense about how much duty they would charge us. With each trip to a new office, we pictured the duty going up, until by the end we were fully expecting to pay hundreds of dollars for our package. So when the customs official bestowed a final stamp and signature on our pile of papers and announced, “nine dinar,” (about $7.00), Tony almost laughed in relief. “Deal!” he answered enthusiastically, causing chuckles from the whole office, both because the joke was actually funny, and because they could understand it. I don’t know how nine dinar could possibly even cover the administrative costs of our epic journey through Tunisian postal bureaucracy, but we’re not complaining.
In case you’re wondering, this is what I did not post yesterday:
I am done with winter, I am done with cold feet, and I am done with sick people trying to kiss me and my kids! I think I will spend the rest of the winter hibernating in my house. Wake me up when it is half-past May.
Yesterday at Church I hope I didn’t offend half the branch, because I just could not do the kissing thing. I resorted to the friendly wave from across the room, and acting really busy between meetings picking up all the food and pencils my children obligingly scatter around. I was only backed into a corner and basically forced to kiss two or three people. Am I the only one who thinks that everyone kissing each other’s faces during the cold and flu season is a really bad idea? Shaking hands is bad enough, but I can’t rub hand sanitizer on my children’s faces all the time! And I kept my son out of nursery not just because he was sick (which he was), but because all the rest of the children in nursery were sicker. (Am I a hypochondriac? well yes, I admit to certain tendencies.)
I have been married for nearly seven years, and have never been able to decide exactly what to do about my name. Every new bride in the United States must decide whether to keep her maiden name or take her husband’s. In effect, society views it as a choice between showing your support for family values or asserting your identity as an individual equal to your husband. The debate is fraught with cultural significance, and you’d better believe that you will be judged by everyone (including yourself) on which choice you make.
I hope you enjoyed our little jaunt to the Philippines yesterday. Now back to Italy. We had decided to move to Italy by October 2007, which at the time was one year away. Now all we needed to do was to collect birth, death, and marriage certificates for Tony and all his ancestors in a direct line back to Domenico. It came to a grand total of 32 certificates, plus the Naturalization papers for Domenico. The documents had to be requested from the vital records offices of five different states and two different towns in Italy, and then most of them had to be sent to the Governor’s office of the various states for an Apostille. The basic function of an Apostille is to make an official-looking certified document look twice as official and certified. The way the Apostille looks varies from state to state, but the most important ingredient is usually a gigantic gold seal.