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.
Last night, I dreamed that I saved Vittorio Emmanuele from assassination. That’s right, the first King of Italy. And then I was so happy that he was safe, I kissed his hand. I realized when I woke up that in my dream I’d had that feeling. The feeling Tolstoy gave Andre when he was sent as a messenger to the Tsar. The feeling Ann had in Hardy’s The Trumpet-Major when she met King George in the street by happenstance. It’s a sort of intense overall sensation of patriotism wrapped up into the adoration of a certain royal person. It resembles a combination of religious fervor, filial piety, and romantic ardor, all rolled into one.
Once again, with moving and other things, my grand ideas for homeschooling have fallen a little by the wayside. Luckily, Axa spends lots of time every day practicing writing, and they both roam the yard studying the plants and animals in it with as much detail as little scientists. Charlotte would be happy that I’m not put together enough to do all the academics I would like to do with my two little under-sixes.
They’re also beginning to use quite a few Italian words. I don’t even know where they’ve heard some of these words. One of their favorite activities in the car is to quiz each other about Italian vocabulary. Between the two of them, they can go on for quite a while. And they hardly ever get a word wrong. “Orkin” these days contains quite a bit more Italian than it used to. And I hear them repeating little Italian conversations to themselves when they’re alone. Not always the most useful words, but I guess it’s what they find useful. The other day Axa was in the bathroom repeating the Italian pronunciation of “O.K.” to herself over and over.
I think we broke some kind of record today. We went to three different Italian government offices and actually accomplished our purpose at each one! Stop number one was the Questura. You’ll recall that last time I went I was afraid of violence, so I did have a few feelings about going (for the fourth time). We had everything all planned out, as usual. We had a slight hiccup when Tony’s alarm went off at 1:40 in the morning. Why, you may ask, would someone set his cell phone alarm to go off at such a time? (Believe me, I asked too). It turns out he had set his alarm because he needs to start thinking about going back to work after lunch at 1:40 in the afternoon. Well, 1:40 in the afternoon does not exist in Italy. It’s called 13:40. The only 1:40 is the one in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, he turned off the alarm and rolled back over to sleep without telling me. I spent the next half hour in a dazed stupor, assuming that Tony had decided to just sleep through our Questura visit after all.