Our first night in the apartment, we discover the radiators are leaking onto the wood floor, the shower is spurting water out of three corners, and the air conditioning shuts off in protest after three minutes.
I am literally melting, the mascara sliding down my cheeks and rage droplets tumbling down my spine as I unzip my overflowing suitcase. Alberto is googling “why is my air conditioner shutting off.” Our new love nest is filled with a symphony of hushed curse words, maniacal sighs and sticky thighs peeling off a leather couch.
Alberto contacts our landlords. He gets a hold of the signora, and she advises, “Don’t text my husband; he doesn’t read them. Contact me. Also, open the windows, it’s not that hot.”
When the radiator leaks, Alberto talks to the husband who says, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll send the plumber. Call me when you have problems, not my wife.”
So, the plumber comes the next week (twice) and says things to me — many things, important things. I nod knowingly, because I’m an expert in hydraulics, especially in a foreign language. “When the water is too cold, turn the thingy to this thingy, but not before you jiggle that thingamajig. Do you understand?” Umm, si, si. Worried the apartment might burst into flames due to my pride, I then call Alberto at work and politely shove the phone to the plumber’s ear.
When the internet guys come another day, they ask me for a ciabatta; I reason that they don’t want bread or a slipper to hook up the WiFi, so again I employ the classic phone-shove: “Say hello to my husband.”
Additional living space adjustments:
- No dryer: I bought clothespins for the first time in my life; we hang everything on the balcony like those Italian villagers in the movies — except our drying rack is from IKEA and not made of ropes that once were used to bind sausage or dry fresh pasta.
- Fun-size washer: It holds about five socks (that’s right — less than three pairs), and if you don’t do a load a day, you’ll drown in laundry for the rest of your life. For a millisecond you’ll consider asking your mother-in-law to go back to washing your delicates like the good ol’ days.
- No microwave: We should’ve taken back that gift to the in-laws.
- No dishwasher: This one has been OK, as we’re not hosting dinner parties any time soon, unless our guests volunteer to assemble the KNOTTEN and KIVIK idling in our living room and cook the meal. Any takers?
One corner of the shower is leaking again as I write this. I’ve noticed that I use the “fingers crossed” emoji a lot more in this country. 🤞