And we’re back after a long absence from posting. Can’t really explain why…just got busy and never seemed to have enough time to sit down and write. I like to have a block of an hour or two of time to write. Our September days just didn’t allow that.
But, this is about feeling like a local.
I have written before about the water ‘huts’ that have opened around Monte San Savino. Selling filtered water from the town. It is better quality than what comes out of our tap and it is chilled and it is fizzy. Flat/still water is available too. I am too tight to buy the liter size bottles with attached caps, instead I recycled wine bottles.
But I did buy one of the plastic bottle carriers. We usually go to the water hut that is by the trash cans in the center of Montagnano. (that booming village that we live near) Sometimes there is a line of one or two folks and I have a little chit chat with them. And then later I might see them and when they acknowledge me I get a little thrill. And Ben will say, ‘Who’s that?’ ‘Oh, just my water hut bud’.
If I was really a local instead of driving to the water hut I would ride my bike. Yeah, right! Not on the road in front of the property and not up the hill if I came in the back of the property. And I don’t have a bike.
But I digress. I was in the local post office the other day. The post office also serves as a bank. Some of them have two counters, one for postal things and one for banking. The ladies who work in the post office switch around. Sometimes banking. Sometimes postal. Sometimes in Monte, sometimes in Marciano, sometimes in Alberoro. So you never know who you will see where. But most of the women know me. While I was waiting, at the counter, there was a man, Italian, about 40 ish acting like a 3 year old having a temper tantrum. He was really being rude to the woman behind the counter. She was getting more and more upset. She finally walked away. I considered leaving because it was so unpleasant but I really needed to get the piece of mail off since it was our request for absentee voting ballots. I was next in line and I was sitting down. Of course Mr. Important, (I’m a lawyer, you know and I need to be in Perugia in 30 minutes) (Well, honey you should already be on the road to Perugia not hanging around a piddly little post office in Alberoro trying to send complicated pieces of mail and oh by the way can you stay OFF your cell phone for a minute!) continued on his rant. Her co-worker stepped in to fix the situation. The co-worker got ugly man back on track. The original employee came back and tried again to finish his transaction. The co-worker finished with the person at her counter. My turn. I stepped up. Giving up my seat. The co-worker looked at my letter and indicated that the other employee will have to handle it. But, since a good 2 minutes had passed between ugly man and the other employee, he had to cause more problems. So co-worker stopped talking to me and went to help him. I waited patiently. Finally, the two of them got ugly man fixed. Much to the relief of everyone waiting and he was off on his way to Perugia. (one of the many folks who absolutely fly down the two lane road like they are on the autostrada. Wish I could say that I saw him later stopped at one the speed traps but nooo. However, the odds are great that he got stuck behind at least one farm vehicle) So co-worker looks at my letter again, the crowd that has now built up and since the woman who was verbally abused has once again walked off she figures that since the letter is going to the US, 2 Euros should cover it. I hand over money and escape too.
The next day I am back in the post office, this time to pay a bill. The lady who took my letter asks ‘Do you remember yesterday? The man who was here? And your letter?’ So we discuss the man, because I know the adjectives to use to describe him. And she is so proud that I come out with the correct things to say and the correct gender endings for the words. Well, anyway, my letter was heavier than she thought and she had to put more postage on it but she sent it anyway. She knew I would be back, do I mind giving her the money for it?
A few weeks back, Ben and I were in our doctor’s office talking with him about getting invalid status for Ben. (this topic deserves a whole post by itself. Look for it later) The doctor referred to an office in Arezzo. I asked where is that? The doctor said ‘You know. By the old children’s hospital’. I can’t imagine what my face looked like. And I realized I wasn’t going to get anymore info from him; I would just ask someone else. Later I realized that he was treating us like we had lived here for years and years. What he said to me was the equivalent of me saying to someone in Raleigh, ‘you know, you turn by the NCNB in Cameron Village.’ Well there hasn’t been an NCNB in Cameron Village in 15 or 20 years.
After thinking about all these things, I realize maybe we should feel like locals. We are starting our 8th year of living here. And while I still feel like a fraud because my language skills are still so bad. And still we don’t have any real truly Italian friends. (I rationalize this by acknowledging that we still live out from any village or town and that we are not really part of daily life with anyone every day like folks who live in a village are.) But, I’m sure the employees at the Esselunga have talked about us ‘You know, the crazy old Americans that come in…he sits at the bar and listens to something with earphones and she shops and then comes to collect him. Sometimes I’m afraid she might drive off and forget that he was there. He doesn’t always come. That’s why I ask her where he is if I don’t see him. Make sure she remembers…’
So locals we are. A few weeks back, Ben and I toasted another fun year completed here and to many more in the future. And if you haven’t planned to visit maybe you should.