Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Switching Houses and the pinwheel of doom
I cannot explain what a silly, silly . . . okay neurotic person I am.  I have sent myself into a spiral of nuttiness with all of this house switching hysteria. If you remember, we left off this saga of summer planning with the fact that we could not afford to keep up with all of our friends here who go to the Amalfi Coast, Sardinia, or Sicily in the summer to get to the sea.  Many of them have had summer homes for generations and thus avoid getting ripped off with the high season prices. It is swarming with tourists here in the summer, but it is a total ghost town in the city in August as far as local families with kids go. Last year when we first got here T was really wanting to be with people her age.

The problem is that I hate rejecting people, I am more come on Oprah-let's-give-everyone-a-brand-new-car, but we have received like six offers a day from all over the world and there can only be one lucky winner. As with all courting experiences, there are some fun love letters you get in the process. Forgive us as F and I still can't speak grammatically correct Italian, although T this month has gone and become fluent, while we make fun of people's adorable stabs at English from their house switching ads:

Here People is fanny and very open. We like foreingners. You will feel as at home and realy enjoy a lot.
We wont to be in your home 2/3 weeks in August in de cases of Italy or Switzerland.  
Carmen is my wife 30 years ago, currently se is a house wife. Se is very sensitive, likes sports, the beauty, enjoy de little things of life and take care of every one se loves.
 Then there was this gem:

We are looking for a tiddy and clean house. We use to travel with our maid so we will keep your house perfectly clean and tiddy too.

And this which makes no sense to me in French or in English:

Children have left home.
We are a couple still in operation, company and having a nice chat: Bamboo.

Les enfants ont quitté le nid familial.
Nous sommes un couple encore en activité, et ayant pour compagnie un gentil chat : Bambou.

In case you ever want to switch houses I advise this:
1. Check Ryanair for where they go and for how much, FIRST.
2. Check to see how many children the people have who want to come to your house.
3. Check to see if they have flea ridden cats who will hate you and demand you feed them.

The worst part of the whole process is that, inevitably, in the end you have to court two final contestants in some wacky let me date your house kind of a way, and in the very end you have to rather suddenly let somebody go.  This happened to us with us and Paco and Pepe.  For most of the week I had no idea which house belonged to which Spanish P named person. Let me back up and say for most of the last week I was sure we were going to Ireland, but then when Meg and her cute red haired freckled family didn't get right back to us about whether she could switch her dates because really we want out in August and not in July, I got that sinking we're about to be dumped feeling.  I told her she was our number one choice, but that we had other offers  -- the truth this time, unlike when I said things like this and I was dating people and not houses.  I told her we needed to have a final decision Monday, which was yesterday.  And sure enough we got dumped. The main reason I wanted to go to Ireland in the summer was to buy great quality cheap back to school clothes for T.  Otherwise I would be happy to go another time of year.  So then when we started to feel a nibble on the line from two Spanish families I started to think-- tapas!

So Pepe's family had a house on the coast of Spain with super low airfares -- we're talking less than forty euro one way.  His home is huge, but he has two younger children and at the end mentioned they might want to bring their auntie as a babysitter. We already are lacking a couch bed as we prefer a mattress on the floor to having that inevitable metal rod that breaks your spleen open in the night.  We would then buy another mattress for the auntie if she didn't mind sleeping Japanese style.  They had a very large house filled with brightly colored plastic toys and we have a huge for NY standards, medium for most people, house that has lots of sharp corners and stairs and low ceilings on the second floor, in other words a head bonker for small children.  But they also live in an area where although the beach itself is narrow, you can always find a private one, even in high season.

Paco's family consists of two practically grown children and their apartment building has a huge pool and a wide white sand beach with the tranquil turquoise water that everyone dreams about.  Their actual apartment is small and cozy-ish, but it has two bedrooms and looks fine. They will probably get a kick out of our house, as if it is not a total rental, that is decorated a little more fancy like and enjoy the city stuff Lucca has to offer.  Both Paco and Pepe were cool with a car exchange, but the pirates are not returning our calls so we have to start all over again with that.

Then there was the whole should we invite a friend for T situation.  In the final analysis I finally knew that as much as I'd like to think that the daily hormone(mine?hers?) driven bickering between T and myself will suddenly stop magically when school is over, a part of me knows better.  She would no doubt have more fun with someone her age.  So after I extended the invitation to Greta's parents, I got more and more nervous as the day went on.  It is a huge thing to lend your kid out for two weeks when it is the end of your time as a family in Italy, in their case.  I knew it would not be an easy sell.  On the other hand, Greta's other good friend besides us is also switching homes for the summer and she would have the same lack of girl problem that T would have hanging out here.  Her twin brother has some great guy friends now who live outside the walls and a little brother to play with. And her family doesn't have a car either.  So a part of me was hanging on against hope because I know the girls will have a kick butt time in Spain, but I had tears in my eyes when we got confirmation that it was all going to work out. Thanks Greta's people.

So after I got this settled you would think that I would get some sleep, but you'd be wrong. Of course we still have the car, the air tickets, the directions in Spanish, the renewing of our documents here in July, and the yearly call my landlord wants me to make to the heater mechanic whose number is supposedly lightly etched in the heater somehow that I can't bring myself to look for.

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