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Despite the late hours I kept the evening before, I awoke quite early the following morning. I knew the painter would come on time. He is a young immigrant from the Ukraine. We hired him to paint the rooms on the second floor. He comes at the time that we had established (it is clear that he has not lived here for very long, considering that he is not late and that he hasn’t changed the appointment time). He comes with all the necessary tools and even with a dust mask. I thought it was the smell of the paint that was bothering him, but before painting, he started sanding and smoothing over the imperfections in the walls

It is an old house; the walls are not uniform and they have been painted many times, always painting the new color directly over the older layer of color, and now they need a good cleaning up. This is something we did not include in the contract that we signed last year. But Daniele, he is a man with a good conscience, tells me that he will do it anyway for the same price, as long as I pay for the material. I am incredibly surprised: Is there really somebody that is NOT trying to cheat me? Without even waiting for my reply, he dons his mask and starts sanding. Soon the room fills up with clouds of fine dust that irritate my nostrils. I open the balcony doors and the cloud of dust drifts outside, as looked like smoke. People that are walking near my place think that the house is on fire. People in Settefrati love drama, and they are generous in dispensing it, I am sure that with the dust clouds drifting out of the house, they will create some for me as well. I try to prevent this as I reassure them,  telling them that I am not burning anything, that it is just Daniele doing his job. At the end of the day, Daniele emerges all covered in fine white dust.  Despite the mask, he has dust all over his face as well; only his eyes are not covered in white. He looks like a clown, but a very honest and funny one.  After that day, we have a few more days that pass similarly, full of sanding and dust clouds, which end up all over everything: on the ceilings, on the furniture, on the floors. I breathe, eat and sleep with dust. Everyday, after the worker finishes, I do a general cleaning; then he comes back the following day and we start again: he makes dust and I try to contain it. Until now, he has won. Daniele 1, Delia 0.

Lucia, who lives in the house below my house, comes out to the balcony and starts screaming that the dust is irritating her delicate nose. I say: “Lucia, be thankful you don’t have to live with it.” Grumbling and muttering something to herself, she goes back inside. She is a dear woman, but like everybody else around here, she has let her opinions be known. 

 Delia Socci Skidmore