I was wearing heels. And make up. And even a jacket with subtle, sparkly gold threads woven through the green-beige-brown tweed and absurd, fluffy, eight-inch re-cycled vintage raccoon fur cuffs. I was doing my best impersonation of una donna italiana and hoping my translations would be accepted.
You see, I wasn’t completely clear on what made a translation “official”. Last time, Signora R. told me to go to the tribunale where they had a list of official translators. Two weeks ago, that’s what I did. Only they told me to go to the giudice del pace. At the justice of the peace, they guy looked over my translations, used his rubber stamp all over them and told me to get a couple of tax stamps worth about $35, had me sign a declaration that they were true to the best of my ability and sent me on my way. I wasn’t sure if that was official enough.
Despite my attempts to look the part, I was no match for Signora R. . Her fuchsia dress, fuchsia fur stole, dark pinkish-red 3D manicure, armful of rhinestone bangles and be-jeweled eyeglasses topped with a cascading explosion of blond hair, she was truly an Italian woman and quite possibly the personification of one of my favorite Italian expressions, an albero di natale or “Christmas tree”.
It was my third time meeting with her, but it may as well have been the first. Armed once again with the wonderful distraction that is A., another chatty, done-up Italian woman, as well as my armload of documents, stamped and taxed and apostilled, we went through it all from the beginning, as if we’d never done it before.
“Is your husband Italian?”
Duh. Of course he is. If he wasn’t, why would I be applying for citizenship through marriage? I shook the thoughts from my head, hoping the smile accompanying my “Sì” was convincingly pleasant.
She turned to him. “Do you have carta d’identita?”
“No lo so,” he replied, looking at me.
“You don’t know if you have? Maybe an Italian passport?”
“Sì, sì. Ce l’ho.” I pulled out his carta d’identita and his Italian passport.
Oh, how the Italian ladies chuckled. He doesn’t know if he has these things! No, I wanted to say. He knows that he has them, that they’ve been issued to him. He just doesn’t know if they are here with us now because I always have them. But I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t know how, but a little bit because she’s the one who takes my application, the one who has the power, and I didn’t want to seem rude so I didn’t even try. I just tried to smile pleasantly. Again.
She picked up my application form. “There is a new modello.”
Of course there is.
And then she proceeded to fill in the blanks I had left, things like what type of degree I have (she couldn’t find a good translation for BA in English/Secondary Education, either, choosing just “college degree”) and what I do now (we decided on “housewife” and everyone chuckled again).
Next, she fondled the sheaf of papers from the Comune. Things like the marriage “extract” (a copy of the page in the book of the town hall in which the marriage was registered), the piece of paper confirming V.’s citizenship, and the one that proves I’m resident in the town.
“Oh. You need to be resident two years.”
“Yes. I am,” I said, still trying to smile, fearing that maybe the new modello came with another change to the law that I hadn’t yet heard of. “Yes. Married 2009. Living here since January 2011.”
“Not from marriage. Resident.”
“Yes. Is now January 2013.”
Giggling and chirpy Italian abounded. So silly. Yes, is now 2013. She looked down again.
“Oh. Trentuno gennaio. You must wait.”
Of course I must wait. It’s only quattro gennaio. They didn’t put me in the book until the thirty-first, even though our lease was dated the first, the vigili came to confirm we lived in our apartment on the tenth and really, what else were the people who work at the comune doing that they couldn’t get me in the damned books sooner?
I tried not to roll my eyes. V. said, “Oh, OK. We come back primo febbraio.”
“No, no, before that.”
Um. What? My residence is dated January 31st, but we don’t need to wait until February 1st. But we can’t submit everything today. When exactly is a good time? Oh, never mind. Va bene.
On to the translations.
“Who did these?”
A. did not say, “I told you two days ago on the phone. She did them. And the guy at the Justice of the Peace read them, said they were fine and stamped them.” She wisely left out the first part, embellished slightly on the second part adding something about a teacher helping me (yes, my teacher, whom I call Google) and Sig.a R. nodded appreciatively at the stamps and signatures.
Then she said something very quickly about the Embassy in Rome and dragged a sparkly, depth-enhanced claw under the part of the instructions on the application that say things need to be legalized by the “competent authority” where the documents are from or at that country’s consulate in Italy.
I looked at A., confused. “Ci sono apostilli,” I ventured. Right there. The first page is one, with that big blue seal of Secretary of State of New York, followed two pages later by one from the Secretary of State of the USA.
A. read my thoughts and kindly, politely pointed them out.
A flurry of grazie and handshakes and kisses on all of our cheeks and we were sent on our way to fill out the new form and return in three weeks. Before buying a tax stamp worth €14.62 and paying the application fee to the stato via the post office of €200. You see, Rosalba wants to look at everything before I do that.