As you can probably tell by the title, it’s been a little loud in the house recently. It’s a strange complaint coming from a twenty year old, I know, but this is the sort of household where if you took the sound level down a couple decibels Helen Keller would say, “oh, that’s loud.” If I had one wish I would ask that from the hours of midnight and six in the morning nobody answered the phone (Donatella takes every phone call from six inches away at a shout), nobody turned the television up to the max volume while cleaning the kitchen, nobody came home screaming their hello to the dogs and nobody came in my room for a box of stamps, or credit cards, or clothing. On a week day the hours of 1-5 am are usually safe and on a weekend it’s usually quiet from 3 in the morning until 8.
Most of this comes from being in the house – Donatella and Enzo don’t seem to care at all about waking each other up, so I suppose I’m not surprised they don’t care about waking me. But there are difficulties for Owen, living outside the house as well. His shelter house is a gateway to another patch of yard. I don’t think he’d mind that Enzo has to go through it sometimes if he didn’t also let the dogs into his room. Also, Camilla performs a ritual barking routine right outside of his door for half an hour every morning. Camilla makes me feel like whatever the Antichrist version of Snow White is. She barks all through dinner, causing Donatella to shout her stories even louder into my ear. Two nights ago she accidentally spat a piece of chicken onto my leg, which bounced off and onto the floor, where Paldo immediately snatched it up. I haven’t been spattered with dog food yet (she feeds them by fork during dinner), but it’s less because of what she’s doing and more because of my reflexes. Say what you want about me, but after getting spit in the face five or six times, I really start to learn my lesson.
My ability to cope with all of this and to take it with good humor comes and goes, as does my ability to cope with everything else. Most nights it’s fine. Some nights it’s really funny. For example, last night, a movie about a female journalist captured in Afghanistan came on the television and Donatella – instead of translating the words into English, shouted translations of the action, which we could obviously all see. In one moment where the taliban are killing one of the French soldiers Donatella announced, “They poison!” “They cut throat!” as Owen and I watched the soldier flail around on the screen and then announced in a voice of quiet shock and dawning comprehension, “Ah, they kill” which sent me and Owen into almost hysterical laughter because what did she think was going to happen when they cut the guy’s throat?
And truly, Donatella is an incredibly loving person. She seems to be happy all of the time and only wants the people around her to be happy as well. Living in this house has taught me that there is a maximum to how loud you can listen to white noise before the sound actually hurts your chances of going to sleep, in addition to slowly discovering which of my shirts work better to shield my face from the light outside my door. But it’s okay. I’m learning quick forgiveness and working on the ability to feel irritation without letting it affect my day or my experience. The second of these two things, I believe, is extremely important, not just for traveling, but for life in general. It’s a good thing too, because before Europe, I think I pretty much sucked at it.
For example, yesterday Donatella locked me out of the house. It wasn’t that I didn’t have my key, I didn’t have a key to the inside door (there are two front doors). Donatella broke the outside lock and locked the inside one because she thought her walk with the dog would only be ten minutes. It was actually something closer to an hour and a half. But today it’s mostly funny and it taught me that I can’t text international phone numbers, so hey, at least we’re going somewhere. Not being able to fall sleep will be funny too, as soon as I get more than five hours. It feels as though this has been a particularly loud week so the hope is that that’ll be sometime between now and when I get to Rochester.