Sam’s story: Chapter two
Immigrating to Italy
By Kristine Ripamonti
While Sam sat at the four-person dining room table, eating some of the blandest cereal, she set out for a day of unknowns. Today they were going to do registration papers; Sam had no idea what this meant; she thought she had finished all the paperwork…
Sam and Federico walked into the Italian Embassy in Miami three days before leaving for Italy. Federico explained they were moving to Italy; a day later, Sam had a visa to enter Italy. No complications, only the long process of registering her marriage, she left most of the process with her brother in Miami to finish.
They all got in the car and drove to a place called “The Questura.”
Sam quickly discovered Italian’s don’t pay for parking. It seemed natural law; walking for thirty minutes was preferable over paying five euros or less for parking.
Next, Sam would only appreciate this much later in life; here, the stubborn, loud, and directness of her mother-in-law would be the useful skills needed to survive the immigration papers of Italy.
At the Questura Federico and Sam waited for an hour in a long line, which extended out the door, finally, Federico and Sam were nearing their turn. Sam started to have the first of many breakdowns.
F – “You should try to talk to them, seeing as you are here now.”
S – “Yeah, I am not going to do that; you need to talk to them.”
Sam looks around the room, “you know, I’ve just realized I am an immigrant.”
With dread, Sam recalled all the newspapers she’s read, political discussions she has listened to, and the implied social status that came with being an immigrant. She knew from that moment on she would always be an outsider. Someone that no one wanted to employ. She would have to return to this immigration office every few years; this was now a large part of her life, the life of an outsider.
F “Come on, don’t look at it like that!! How do you think I felt in the US? There they had to take my blood!” He asserts, while at the same time, his eyes got shallow, the burden of an unhappy wife weighed on him, and worse of all, he didn’t see that weight getting any lighter any time soon.
Sam was jotting down in her mind all the reasons she did not want to stay in Italy, so far, day two in Italy was going well.
1. She was an immigrant; getting a job would be hard.
2. She can not understand what anyone is saying.
A lot of noise surrounded her, but no one was saying anything. The process at the Questura took a few days. Sam wandered around aimlessly, albeit a bit numb while her husband and mother in law took the lead of speaking and making trips back and forth to the local tobacco shops for some payment stamps called “bollos” and copies of different documents. Lots of photos, various sizes as well.
Sam stood in the middle of the questura wandering around; she stared at a poster on the wall for a good twenty minutes. “Parliamo Insieme” was written, not knowing what this meant, she took a photo. Something about this photo communicated it was necessary.
After a few days, Elena drove Sam and Federico back to the questura. Seeing as it was “pick up time,” the line outside was shorter. They made it through line one. Then waited. Then they made it through line two, then waited. Then they went into a room for something… then something was done. There was one thing missing, the medical card.
Sam understood this would not be possible until her marriage registration in Italy was completed. Another process that would take a few months to complete. Someone was talking to someone and explaining this, again Sam didn’t understand much, in a daze she stared while they spoke.
Elena got up, went to the window, with all the force of a controlling mother in law, told the lady, “She is pregnant, we need to go to the doctor tomorrow, she needs a medical card now!” Low and behold, they printed off the medical card.
Viva the Italian mothers-in-law! Many stories will describe the overbearing side of them, but we would probably all be lost without them.