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We were getting used to all the details of our new daily life.

Work, the house, the church, friends…  Every day had a specific routine; every action had its turn and its time. Nothing happened by chance; our lifestyle was dictated by the things we had to do everyday. There were very few opportunities for surprise visits. We would always call our friends the day before to make sure they were home and wouldn't mind a visit. The family that was the host would usually contact other friends, prepare coffee and cookies and we all would spend some time together, maybe even to watch a particular show on TV. The guests would arrive at the time they had agreed on and would leave early if it was a day in the middle of the week, a little later if it was a Saturday. They would all cordially say goodbye to everybody. If the guest relatives had come from another town, they would spend the night there rather than leave the same night. We used to hug and kiss on one cheek. This special greeting was only for friends and relatives that came from far away and who one didn't see very often.


In contrast, back in Settefrati, we did have times that were most suitable for a visit, but nobody would respect them. If a friend or a relative would stop by to visit, he or she was always welcome, at any time. They would be welcomed with a glass of wine. The ladies, or comari, were instead offered some coffee. The women would get together to chat, exchange a few laughs and spend some time together.


When they had to talk about so me delicate issue or about someone who was not present, they would talk in almost a whisper, forming a circle into which they would all lean. The woman who had a secret to tell would pull her chair closer, fix her head scarf and would look at the others with her eyes lit up and her face red. It was her moment of fame, the moment she felt that she was the most important among them and she would take advantage of it as much as she could. As she would talk, she used to emphasize the “spiciest” words with a heavy voice, looking intently at the other comari’s faces.


Nothing would stimulate our curiosity more than that mysterious behavior and we would do everything we could to listen to the forbidden secrets of the adults. We would hide behind the door or on the steps so that they couldn't see us. But our moms knew all about us and would come and roust us from our hiding spots to send us away. 

In  America, it was the weekend that we all waited for and that was not a calm time at all.

We followed the same routine that had been established for years. In the morning, we had to do the laundry, iron the clothes, clean the house and go shopping. After we did all our chores, we could finally go for our usual visit into town, where we would meet with our friends, not to go shopping but to look at the decorated shop windows, with mannequins wearing beautiful clothes. It was nice to know that if you needed a dress you could find one that was already made, and that was available in different sizes and colors. I had developed a predilection for visiting all the women’s clothing stores, to touch and try on as many dresses

I had developed a predilection for visiting all the women’s clothing stores, to touch and try on as many dresses as I wanted, with the help of a clerk, and then not buy anything.


Delia Socci Skidmore