Have wheels, will travel.

Sitting down to write about these past few weeks has been really challenging. I’m in this weird purgatory of knowing the schedule but not knowing where anything is, thanks to my lack of skill in driving a manual car.

Ok, honestly driving manual is not hard, the challenging part is getting used to how people drive in Italy. My host dad, Carlo, is probably the worst of them all. The first week I arrived in Italy I rode with him and the children to school every day, and it took me that entire week to figure out where exactly the school was. We would be in the left turn lane and all the sudden turn right. Too slow of a car in front of us on a small narrow street? No problem, just narrowly avoid the buildings and oncoming traffic while going around the slow poke. Red lights? Merely a suggestion - if the intersection is clear. No rules of the road apply when Carlo Morlacchi is driving.

After a few driving lessons in a parking lot, Carlo took pity on me and my lack of confidence in my ability to drive like an Italian while mastering a manual (or maybe out of fear for his children’s safety) bought me a tiny  little automatic car. I promptly named him Little Beasty our first drive home. The engine feels like it’s going to stall every time I come to a stop, it shakes if I go 120 on the highway (yes, that’s the speed limit, and yes it’s in kilometers) and I’m no mechanic, but I’ll be surprised if it actually lasts me the entire time I’m here. I love this car. Everything about the home and family have felt overly fancy compared to my old simple life, and this car makes me feel right at home.

The best part about driving Little Beasty is that Emilio absolutely HATES to be seen in the car. It’s a complete opposite of what he’s used to. Alfa Romeos, BMW and Mercedes Benz just to name a few are the cars Emilio is usually dropped off in. Carlo deals old antique cars and has an impressive collection of his own at the villa. So at Emilio’s demand, I must park at least one full block away from the school in order to not have his classmates see the car.

I can empathize with the poor kiddo, though. I know the embarrassment of having to be dropped off in a car that you would rather die than be seen in. For me it was the lovely, “Tampon Van,”  in middle school. My dad worked at a company in Las Vegas that cleaned carpets and supplied things like toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels to the major casinos on the Strip. Well, Dad always drove home this awful black van with flames. That on its own wouldn’t have been so bad, but what really topped it off was the writing on the sides, the name of the company and, “SANITARY SUPPLY.” All my mom and I could think when we saw sanitary supply was Tampons. So, every morning as I went to middle school, the most traumatic time in pretty much any child’s life (until high school) I was dropped off in the Tampon Van. Looking back now, and remembering how much I hated that stupid van, I wouldn’t go back and change any of it. That van meant my daddy got to take me to school every day. It was the time we got to spend together without my brothers or my mom, and that is worth more than getting dropped off in any fancy car.

Knowing Emilio, you’d have to physically pick him up and throw him in the van. Then again, he’s still learning English so maybe if we didn’t tell him, he’d just think it was a cool van with flames. 

Brooke JohnstonComment