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Amber Paulen

New Neighbors

or it’s time to go

Below our windows is a cantina that sat empty for months. Inside it is a small space like a hole in the ground without windows. It’s door is across a narrow viccolo. Needless to say it’s not empty anymore, a young couple moved in with their newborn.

The thing is, she is so loud so that when she talks on her phone with the door closed I can still hear her. The thing is, they basically moved into the viccolo as well. The baby cries and she shouts his name: “RICARDO!” as if yelling is going to make things better. But the real problem is, they hate cats.

Warning: If you are someone that dislikes fuzzy animals do not move into the old center near a piazza in a quaint Italian town. Just do not. In quaint Italian towns there are no government subsidized sterilizations. Small Italian towns are notorious for colonies of cats. And when cats eat they shit. They shit anywhere they can, in plants, patches of dirt or on the cobbles if that suits them.

Cat Haters tend only to see that direct line: food to poop. They see that I feed them and blame me for their shit. Really, that is all they see. They get so angry that cats should dare to defecate to the point that they fail to see that us humans are great shitters ourselves. That shitting is a necessary part of life, like sleeping. That if animals did not shit (us included) we would not live.

And that is the mantra of the Cat Haters: die.

We share our emotional apparatus with [cats], though there are those who angrily deny it: but some people like to inflate themselves with superior feelings about other species. — Doris Lessing, Time Bites

After two weeks of being moved in, our new neighbors thought they could express their point by relocating piles of caca to our front door. “In the States we exchange pies,” I wanted to say, but the point would have been lost. Whatever, a bit like Prince Myshkin we overlooked it and tried to engage in smiling with them when they passed by. No no no, there could be none of that. In the summer heat, with our windows and their door opened, antagonism escalated.

We talked about them in English while they told anyone who would listen how horrible we were for feeding the cats. It was as if they wanted to assemble a whole Cat Hating army to march against us, against the cats who have lived in the piazza longer than anyone. When instead we all should be complaining to the Comune together for sterilizations.

Anyway, the situation finally came to a head, like these situations tend to. Such energy can’t last long until it explodes. At least we’re not on terms of avoidance anymore. At least they no longer talk about how bad I am under my window. It’s fine. It’ll do. Fall storms are blowing in and out, closing their door and our window.

All this means that it’s time to go. Bracciano, I cannot stay. It’s time. In two months time we’ll be moving on, moving around: Thailand here I come! All this also means that I’ve got to get my ass in gear if come January I’ll be living nomadically. I must be satisfied with a decent final draft. I will. I better get back to work…

Also: Best of luck to Carolyn and Drew who are moving all the way across the country soon. By country, I mean that big one.


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