Posted by: 4initalia | January 5, 2009


We’ve been here for four days, and now that jet lag is wearing off, confusion is setting in. We spent all morning in various government offices attempting to comply with Italian immigration requirements, but accomplished nothing. We mostly stood by while government officials scoffed at our documents and explained in rapid Italian that we don’t have what we need to do what we need to do. Dealing with Italian bureaucracy is a lot like playing Myst, with sound.

This afternoon, we’ll stagger to the store to replenish our food supply, for the third time in three days. Alex is twelve years old, and his appetite rivals that of zoo tigers. Last night, twenty minutes after a huge dinner, he was hungry again. Andy and I watched mutely as he finished off most of what was left in the minuscule refrigerator.

We have no car, and the nearest grocery store is a quarter-mile away. We burn 200 calories every time we walk to the store, and loaded with bottles, cans and produce, we burn 400 calories on the walk home. Annalise is only six years old, I’m recovering from a broken wrist, and the four of us can carry  maybe 20,000 calories per shopping run. But Alex consumes 2000 calories per hour, around the clock. The math frightens me: our family can’t carry enough food to keep up with our son’s rate of consumption. The food here is so irresistible, we’re going to starve to death.

While I wait for death, I wash clothes. The ancient washer is a front loader with a mysterious assortment of dials and buttons from which the writing has long worn off. The clothes will be trapped in the machine for at least two hours, maybe three. Sometimes the washer decides that it will not release its door unless we allow it another cycle; since I have no idea what any of the buttons are for,  I am in no position to argue. Yesterday I tried to wash a load of cleaning rags, but two hours and sixteen minutes of washing merely more equitably redistributed the dirt.  Today, I’ll wash the kids’ clothes, but by the time the washer is through, the kids will have outgrown them.

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