Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The ending of an era

I was having one of those overly nostalgic moments on our terrace the other day.  Just sitting outside, watching the boats come in and out of the harbor below, sipping a glass of wine in the afternoon's setting sun.  And as I started to get misty, or let's be honest, actually crying, about leaving Naples, Tom came out and judged me harshly.  "Are you serious right now??"  At that time, in the peaceful quiet of Sunday afternoon during riposo, I was very sad.  Thinking back on the friends that we've made, the parties that we've had here, the long dinners filled with laughter and several glasses/bottles of wine....  It was lovely. 

But then our pack out happened and all of that longing and sadness died.  Totally.  And was just replaced by that all-too familiar hatred of the difficulty of life here.  As I'm sure I've covered approximately 1,000 times, we live on the top floor of an apartment building in Vomero, one of the downtown neighborhoods of Naples.  When we moved in, it was August, when all of Italy completely shuts down.  The roads were empty and the traffic was sparse.  Today is June 4th.  Traffic is not sparse.  Italians are everywhere.  After day 1, which included four Italian men packing our apartment for two hours and then two of said men disappearing for seven hours, I was annoyed.  Two dudes packed us up until their disappearing friends returned at 7:45 pm.  They stayed until 8:58pm.  "I swear, Tom, if these guys aren't gone by 9 on the dot, I'm going to lose my %&#*."  This phrase, "I'm going to lose my %&#*," was uttered approximately 600 times in the past 48 hours. 

I pulled paper-wrapped bundles of my prized possessions into the guest bedroom, covering them in huge black X's to denote "I am not pleased with this packing job.  Try again."  Day 2 began at 7:30 am.  Italian men in various version of sweat-pant inspired jeans arrived at our apartment with a few boxes, some packing tape, and swagger.  And then the crane arrived.  Our "lift" getting into our apartment was dinky, like a bucket truck.  Today, they brought the big guns.  Things were moving in a way that I have not thought possible by Neapolitans ever before.  And then I understood why: they failed to get the permits required to operate said crane and wanted to get everything done before the police arrived. 

And did the police arrive.  With 95% of our worldly possessions sitting on the sidewalks of Naples, a fight broke out between the crane operators and the management of the restaurant across the street.  All work came to a screeching halt.  Two police officers dressed in what I have heard called "urban camouflage" arrived with their little lollipops (devices used by Italian police to either stop your vehicle or violently and with great annoyance, provide traffic advice.  The latter is obviously more common but the third alternative, by far the most common, is to see this plastic lollipop cradled beneath their armpit while they engage in vigorous conversation, check their phone or smoke a cigarette) and began writing tickets.  I was unsure what they hoped to accomplish from this visit.  And then our beloved personal items began crossing a two-lane road and were placed on the opposite side of the street inches outside of the way of oncoming traffic.  Rather than assist the movement, the officers watched.  Trucks, cars, mopeds, buses all flew up and down the street, as a veritable game of Frogger began with our couch, wedding pictures, bookcases and dishes.  Nothing like seeing your crystal champagne flutes in a box reading "Handle with care" placed in the middle of downtown traffic.  My confidence soared.

To add to it, we're not the most popular people in our building.  Our downstairs neighbor is this really sweet woman who always reminds us that she was a girl in Naples when the Americans liberated the city in WWII.  She loves me.  We struggle with communication and to date, she's never invited me down for one of her epic meals which smell amazing, but she's very sweet when she sees me.  Her daughter, who speaks English, flipped out about the annoyance of Americans moving in and out of the building every 3 years.  She was screaming on the street about it.  "Every 3 years they do this!  No more Americans living in this building."  You know, except all of this was in Italian.  Screaming like a mad woman into the 9:30 morning sun.  That's the thing about Italians, they hate to be dramatic.  Understated, subtle, subdued, those are the real words to describe Italians.

I'm adding pictures  and video to sum up the day.  I am left, utterly exhausted, annoyed and ready to tell just about any Italian who crosses my path to shove it, but I am finally ready to go back to America.  And, you know, re-purchase absolutely everything that we own.  Because it is likely all broken.

Mamma mia....

The crane arrives.  Safety is always foremost in the minds of Neapolitans.

The view of the scene from the street.

How to safely disassemble a crane.  Clearly you sit on the end that will no longer be connected.

On the left, our worldly possessions.  In the background, a fight between our movers, the local polizia and a gentleman who is very angry that he got a parking ticket for parking his scooter illegally. And on the right, an SUV driving inches away from our things.  Solid.

Molto fragile is Italian for "I wrapped this in a box.  Kind of."

Nathan helped us move into our place 3 years ago.  We celebrated with lunch at Solopizza.  Today, we relived that glorious day.  Big beers for everyone!!