Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Scary Morning

photo property of Eugene Feygin

It's 8.09am.  I'm dressed with my hair still in its messy bun from last night, and on the phone with Fabri who's telling me it's frosty out and to dress up Sera warm. She's in front of the TV watching Cars. The citofono* is buzzing.

I tell Fabri that I have to go answer but he keeps me on the line.

'Jessica, devi venire immediatamente qua./Jessica, you must immediately come here.' The surly voice of the doorman echoes down the line.

'Um, ok' I say. 'Ma ci vuole un  po perche ho la bimba e devo ancora vestirla./Um, ok, but I need a bit cause I have my daughter and need to dress her.'

'Veloce perche c'è il comune./Quick, because there is the government' He replies and hangs up.

Uh-oh.... what did I do? Panic starts to rise. I can feel the course of the adrenaline heading out to my extremities and clouding my thinking. I order myself to breathe, hang up with Fabri and turn to Sera.

'Honey, you have to help mommy dress you now because something is happening.' I say. She looks up at me immediately and to my relief cooperates with the whole procedure of diaper changes, socks trousers, sweaters and shoes only saying every once in a while 'Something is happening?'  She must have understood that I don't normally have that tone of voice or that seriousness to my demeanour.

I keep telling her that I don't know what is happening and I really don't. I envision police officers at the gate with handcuffs ready and think of which neighbours might be home to watch Sera. I wonder if they'll let me call Fabri and have him take her or what happens to minors in these circumstances.

But what circumstances?? I'm pretty sure I haven't committed any reato*, well, at least nothing that you actually get arrested for... though maybe I shouldn't have passed that English kids songs .Mp3 onto that woman at my playgroup.  I knew I couldn't trust her!  I order myself to breathe again as my imagination is wandering away from me.

We're outside and the door is locked. It is quite frosty out. I put Sera in a stroller and head to the front gate. Dead woman walking... what happens next could change my entire life... what if I'm being accused of some serious crime and have no alibi for my whereabouts for the night in question? What if I can't prove that I didn't do it?  What if I DID do it and am criminally insane?!?!?!

Breathe, breathe, breathe....

I turn the corner and am feeling slightly calmer when I don't see police vehicles and lights flashing... I don't even see a group of boys in blue with those stupid hats they wear here but instead I see what looks like a middle aged woman bike-messenger.  She is smiling and chatting with the doorman.  He's smiling and chatting too and almost looks personable... though he never smiles and chats with me.

Breathe, breathe, breathe...

She has papers in her hand.

'Jessica Herman?' She asks. I nod. 'Dovrei vedere un documento./I need to see some identification' she continues.

With my habitual stress-induced comic persona I whip out my passport, drivers' licence, identity card and  permesso di soggiorno*, and medical card all at once and reply 'Quale vorresti? ha ha ha / Which one would you like... ha ha ha.' Man, I'm such an idiot.  I look down at Sera and she's marvelling at what an idiot her mother is.

My creative mind continues to stir...

This woman is handing me a summons to appear in court. This woman is revoking my permission to stay in the country. This woman is telling me I've committed a crime. This woman is writing things down on a paper. This woman is looking at my identity card. This woman is looking at my face. This woman is...


Yes, she's smiling. Sadist.

Wait... maybe she's not a sadist! 'Congratulazioni Jessica. Sei cittadina Italiana. / Congratulations Jessica, you're now an Italian citizen.' Wow. I didn't see that one coming.

My stress and worry melt away and are replaced with relief and something akin to joy but mostly I'm just happy I don't have to spend the day being interrogated by Government officials. I thank her and re thank her and she's thinking that I must have really really wanted to be Italian and that this is a dream come true... which in a way it is... but I'm mostly thanking her for not having brought any of my crazy crime-show fantasies to life.  What do they say about a guilty mind? I think that if I ever did find myself in a situation like the ones I was imagining I'd never be able to get out of it!

And then it hits me. I'm Italian today. Today is the first day I'm Italian. Sono Italiana. Sono Italiana? Sono Italiana!

Oh boy. What does this mean?  Well, two things I can think of off the top of my head are:

-I can no longer live in this country and shut my eyes to the crazy political situations and conveniently declare my point of view but then finish my debate with 'But anyhow, I can't vote anyways.'  Off to the ballots I go.

-I can no longer sit in a bar during the European Cup or World Cup of soccer and cheer for the team with the cutest players.  Forza Italia!

I feel like sometimes I wore my label of  *extracommunitaria like a badge of honour... excluding me from all the negative aspects of being Italian while still being in Italy and enjoying all of the positive aspects.  Now I have the responsibility to take actions as well to help to change the negative. Like I said, oh-boy.

Now, why on earth would my doorman and the Govenment woman would conspire to scare the wits out of me before 9am?  I suppose that's not important now. Today is a celebration.

I will never give up my Canadian citizenship or my love of Canada and the idealistic role it's come to play in my mind but I have to scoot that image over slightly now for my new identity and home.  I need to figure out what this new identity means. But in the meantime...

I am Italian.  Sono Italiana.

Mamma Mia!


*citofono = telephone style intercom that connects you to the doorman or front door
*reato = illecit crime
*permesso di soggiorno = temporary and renewable permission to stay in Italy
*extracommunitaria = person from outside the European Union living in Italy


  1. YAY Jess!!!! Congrats -- it's always exciting no matter what.. I'm not sure I want to get my request in quite yet (different reasons we can chat on our next night out)..
    I actually have to call you and ask you for a couple of phone numbers anyhow..
    Kisses and hugs in the meantime.

  2. Congrats jess. I cant help but feel we've lost a part of u...not that i live there or anything xx

  3. Never fear all my Canadian friends! My patriotism remains yours!
    This of course because as a new Italian I am expected to act like one! Now I have to start complaining about Italy and wishing I lived in Canada otherwise I just wouln't fit into my new culture|