Are We There Yet???

Posted on April 4, 2011


Dear Doccia,

The shower. La doccia. Finalmente! Finally…sometimes a shower is just about the best thing in the world. I felt like I had been camping. My hair was starting to dread, my clothes smelled like the mountain pushed me into the dirt, and my skin felt worn from too much sun and too many layers of clothes. It was quite beautiful in the mountains this 3-day birthday trip for the boys. Sunshine and gorgeous, cloudless, blue skies. As we approached Ovindoli Tommaso became a little car sick and we had to pull over along a steep road in a little village. There was such urgency in this situation that S forgot to put the car in park and jumped out as it slowly began to roll backwards down hill with me and Matteo helpless in the back seat. Childlocked in. We can’t even roll down the windows. T sees the car moving, while tending to her son about to vomit and shouts to S to get back to it and I believe he tried to stop it with his legs! Excitement and all it’s still light outside and we are not there yet. Matteo and my eyes are wide and we laugh but were secretly scared. Once we are all back in the car Matteo asks me to count, in English, while he repeats each number. Once we get to 20, 30 and 40 and so on he asks,”poi??” (then??) when I stop, wondering if I can stop and he wont ask me to go on. Once we get to 70 and 80 I tell him that we are stopping at 100. But he doesn’t let me stop there. He knows there are more than only 100 numbers! I skip several numbers in between and tell him just 200, 300 and so on until 1000 then I tell him that is the end. He is satisfied and content and looks out the window while I silently sit “bitch” and cannot wait to get there. It only takes about 2 hours but it seems like forever when the kids are asking, “are we there yet!?” every 6 miles or so. I laugh since I now know what they are asking. I try to get them to keep asking each time in English and they catch on if I remind them. “Are we there yet….?”

Once we get to the house its a series of bringing up luggage, bags and toys in the tiny elevator. About 12 trips later we have everything and the boys are fighting over something and someone starts crying. I don’t react as fast anymore since now I am used to their fussing. I know when its serious by their tones so I knew this was not that serious of a battle. I make their beds and pull out my bed from the sea-foam green couch. I look forward to sleeping in a larger bed but I know that I don’t “get” that much sleep between their tossing and turning, light snoring and my mind racing. Oh, and I can’t  not mention how much louder the calls for “mama” are when I am in the same room as them each sunrise. Each morning I try my hardest to get back to sleep, just for one more hour if I can just shut my eyes and cork my ears! Once I fall back into blissful unawareness the other one wakes up calling for “mama” about 7 more times until she hushes him and tells him to “scendi!” (come down) from the bed, in a loud whisper. All I can do is a smile in the dark and be thankful that there is complete darkness thanks to the wooden windows with three panels. I pretend to sleep for each morning until about 9 and then make myself open to window. There is nothing like fresh warm air from the mountains of Italy to greet you in the morning. I take a deep breath and close my eyes while the sun shines into the room. I dress for the mountain and go out to the kitchen for some sort of breakfast to hold me over until lunch. We stop at a ski shop so that the boys can choose birthday sunglasses. When I was little my grandparents used to buy my sister and I both a present when it was one of our birthdays. The birthday girl would get to choose two gifts and the other just one. On this day of Tommaso’s birthday I even received a gift! I picked a grey hat that was not only “made in Italy” but was on sale. I asked to pay them back once we go to the car and she refused. “It is a gift for you.” Va bene. Sometimes I feel like there are so many reminders of my grandparents it is overwhelming. Not one day goes by that I don’t think of one or both of them. I see old balding 80 year olds and I see Salvatore, my nanu. The same exact ears and wisps of hair around that tan shiny head. Any older woman smoking a Marlboro light: its my Nana. Frances. Daily, I am blessed to feel them with me here in Rome.

Friday and Saturday we had reservations at the mountain’s restaurant for lunch, which is not only tasty but also beautiful inside and very fancy for this tiny mountain. Linens, too many wineglasses and shiny silverware decorate each table. The first lunch we each order Polenta. When we are in the mountains this is the signature dish. A must. Always delicious and never lets anyone down. I got into the routine of eating with my left hand and feeding Matteo with my right. I can say that I don’t eat as fast, or as much, as I used to since it is more important to make sure that he is eating. Sometimes he is very independent while eating and doesn’t want my help at all but most of the time I am asking him to “apri la boca…” or “ultimo” (open your mouth…last bite!) I usually can get at least 3 more good bites in with each false promise of “ultimo!” We order beers with lunch and they arrive after the food so I cannot finish mine. I don’t hardly drink beer but since it was early afternoon I thought why not? When in the Ovindoli.

Two hours at the mountain and Tommaso has had his lesson. In about one hour I had done 6 runs, three lifts and thanked them for the hat. Even though I rode in only a thin shirt and hoodie I needed the warmth over my ears. Once the snow melts and we have had enough sunshine we head home to play outside some more. We kick a soccer ball around, play at the park or look for bugs. Once we played some table-soccer and I had to do my best “to let” Tommaso win. I have not played in over a year and a habit is a habit. Winning is winning. I used to be pretty good at foos ball and my sister and I had our own table at our old house.  Back to outdoor soccer I am amazed at how warm it is in such high altitude. I don’t really have the right “spring” clothes and I am sweating in my long sleeves and leggings. Not only do I never get to win (anything I play with Tommaso) but I suffer heat and too much dirt playing with these wild ones. Anyone that knows me understands that I have a serious compulsion with washing my hands. The fact that the boys refuse and go through hand sanitizer like chewing gum appalls me. Playing outside I prefer, but the dirty hands, toys and muck? Ughhh non mi piace. Their tiny little nails are black and their pants filthy with either mud, dirt, grass or asphalt. Usually a generous portion of each as a result of anything outdoors for more than 2 minutes. That is all it takes. The worst is when their filthy fingers are “digging for gold” or near my face. Yes, I shared with their parents “digging for gold” is eagerly and aggressively picking your nose. They laughed and understood completely what I meant. I must tell Matteo more than one time a day, “non toccare la faccia, per favore!” (do not touch the face. Please!) or my nose ring.

The second days’ lunch I decide to start with a cocktail. An Italian spritz. It is served in a wine glass with two large straws. Again, I am unsure why there are two since to me it only makes sense that one would drink faster having access to the drink with huge “cannucce” (sounds like ka-noo-chee) I take out one straw and share it with Matteo since he actually demanded it of me. He kept trying to steal my drink and I had to tell him over and over it was not for kids! “non per bambini” It was bright as an orange vest off a construction worker and tasted strong as a three finger whiskey. 7 chunks of circular ice and a large wedge of a blood orange made this drink my new favorite. I ordered the porcini mushroom ravioli and enjoyed my drink slowly and kept it out of reach of the kid. When my three ravioli arrived I was in shock and awe over the portion. Not small. HUGE. These were easily 5 inches by 5 inches! Each stacked neatly with porcini slices strew lazily over as if they surrendered to the powerful ricotta stuffed pillows. This. This was the kind of dish I will never forget.

The last day (today) I decided to not ride and hang back with Matteo and T for the short 3 hours before we head home. It was windy and cold but we made it through. The day before we turned my snowboard into a sled and had a grand time laughing and bombing down the tiny hill. Today we got told “no.” By a police officer on skis no less. I don’t mind the exercise I endured going up and down the mini hill carrying my board but I was thinking that when we were down at the car it seemed silly of me to have my board with me and not be wearing my boots. In a way I didn’t really want to have to carry it either. And so it is. Damnit. Again! I need to ask for bigger things in life. I get immediate response when it comes to food, drink and simplicity of “doing” but maybe it is because I am specific and to the point when it comes to these categories. When I know exactly what I want I will be sure to ask for it…and get it.

Once we get back to Rome I can feel the weight of the smog hit my lungs. I thought it was just stuffy in the car since I was crammed in the middle (always sitting bitch) there was traffic, the windows were on childlock and the boys were getting restless. It was the change of altitude. And also in this case, change of attitude. I cannot wait to get home and unpack. I just want to get clean and be alone in my room already.  As we empty the car I can’t wait to just wash my hands! Compulsion takes over once again and before I can dry my hands I am called into the other bathroom to help dress the boys after their bath. Lucky them! I want someone to scrub my hair clean then blow dry it then dress me while I lazily watch TV. The air is heavy again and I promptly dress and dry one before the other has even stepped out the tub and wrapped in their towel. I am getting good at this. “You’re fast!!!” Matteo tells me in English.


Posted in: When in Rome