Saturday, January 5, 2008

Stops Along the Road to Patience

Patience is apparently a place in Italy because Piero is always telling me to find it. One thing I know for sure, it isn't in my neighborhood and I don't expect a branch office to open anytime soon.

I know, I know, one must acculturate if one is to be happy in another country. Piero always complains that in the United States there are too many choices. He loses sight of that place called Patience whenever he walks into Au Bon Pain and orders a sandwich. Does he want whole wheat, rye, sour dough, foccacia, white? Does he prefer cheddar, Swiss, provolone? Does he want tomato? Lettuce? Mayo? Mustard? No, dammit, he just wants a ham sandwich, however it comes, like in Italy.

Enough about the right to choose. Back to Patience.

In October, three weeks before we were expecting nine guests to pick olives, we
1) sent the dryer out to be fixed, 2) asked the gas company to come and take away their huge ugly tank, which was put under the house when we changed the service 3) ordered a new set of laundry room doors from the carpenter, and 4) asked the painter to paint and repair the front of the house, where chunks of stucco were falling down.

-The dryer needed a small part and was fixed and delivered two weeks after our guests left.
-The painter erected his scaffold the day before our friends arrived and worked the whole week they were here.
-The laundry room doors remained in the studio of Umbro, the artiste, until yesterday, January 4, 2008, after promises of delivery November 1st, 15th and 30th, and December 5th, 10th, and 20thth.
-The gas tank spent the Christmas and New Year's holiday still sitting under the house and plans to celebrate Befana Day (Epiphany) with us also. Boh, as they say in Italy to indicate "that's the way it is". (They also say va bene, it's okay, but I'm not going there at this point).

I have recognized the Stages of Italian Life and am moving through them:
disappointment -- you promised to fix my dryer in three days and it's been three weeks
anger--it really makes me really mad that you have left your property, a giant blue gas tank, on my property for three months
grief -- if I have to hang my clothes outside in the cold one more time I am going to cry; if my friends arrive to see my sheets stretched out over the lawn chairs on the terrace I am going to kill myself
patience -- I guess it won't do any good to go to Umbro's studio for the twelfth time; he will make the doors when inspiration strikes. Anyway, the New York Times says it is chic nowadays to wait for items to be hand made (they probably didn't realize that practically every door in Italy is custom made because there are no standard door sizes)
acceptance -- Piero says my friends will love me even if the gas tank is under the house, the scaffolding hides the windows, the towels take three days to dry, and the disgusting mess that is the laundry/storage room is open to the public
fatalism -- one day, when I least expect it, the people will come to pick up the tank. Va bene.
Umbro does such a good job, it is worth waiting for him to finish. Va bene. Most Italians hang their clothes outside, anyway. Va bene. Eventually, the gas company will come for their tank. Va b-- stop right there. That tank better be out of here before Valentine's Day or I'm going to be disappointed and mad and they are going to be grief-stricken.

Three thousand years of civilization have refined this process. Who am I to question its value?

copyright Sharri Whiting Umbria Bella 2008

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