Friday, May 18, 2007

Carramba che Sorpresa!

A few years ago the Italian State televison offered a bizarre variety show called "Carramba, che sorpresa". It was hosted by the queen of italian telly hosting, Raffaella Carrà, who through the years was able to recycle herself from showgirl to dancer and singer, on through quiz shows, and finally into variety show hostess. The word "Carramba" is a leftover from her spending some of her career in Spain and South America, definately not an Italian exclamation. The whole point of the show was to surprise someone by having them see people they hadn't seen in a long time. Ninety-nine percent of the guests were people from South America (mostly Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela) who had immigrated to Italy in the fifties and had never been back. Every week, for four endless months they would drag some lady or man onto the stage, sit them down next to Raffaella while she told their life story and how they hadn't seen their sister, cousin, brother, for the last twenty-five years. And guess what? Carramba, che sorpresa...they're here tonight!!! The format was exactly the same every week and of course I couldn't help but cry every episode. Each week I would ask myself how can they not see they're family for 25 friggin' years! Buy an airplane ticket, go for Christmas! Did they have a fight? Maybe they didn't want to see each other! Not in a million years would I ever think to find myself in a similar predicament. No, I'm not going on a variety show...

In the eighties I used to go to California at least twice a year: sometime during the summer and then for Christmas. I did a work stint at the end of the eighties for a travel agency and I'd travel four times a year to the east or west coast. After Olivia was born in the 90's I tried really hard to see at least one member of my family once a year. That would be three people. My Mom passed away when I was a child, my little brother passed away in the mid eighties so that leaves my Father who still lives in Northern California, my sister in Kauai (three children) and my older brother who now lives in Tennessee (three children).

The last time I saw my brother was in 1997. I went there for Christmas with Olivia and don't remember it as being a particularly nice visit since I was just divorced and really struggling with a lot of stuff. In 2000 I earned a good chunk of money and was able to travel to Kauai with Olivia in tow to see my sister. I still remember crying at the airport and wondering why we had scattered to opposite sides of the planet. My father came to Italy in the spring of 2001 to see me. After 9/11 he hasn't ever wanted to travel back to Europe. Me? 2001 was the year I bought my house so all my money went into that. 2002 I was pregnant for four months then miscarried, 2003 pregnant again and giving birth. Traveling to the States doesn't mean just me anymore, it means taking the family. Four airplane tickets cost 6.000,00 and it's just money I don't have to spend on travel these days. I have been back to New York for work four times, and even if it's great to be back on home turf it's still not the same as going "home".

My brother has three sons. The first, Jonathan, is graduating from high school next saturday. He's won a full scholarship (in baseball) to the University of Memphis and we are all excited for him. When I found out my father was going to the graduation I thought that I'd just have to find the money to go, even if it meant just me traveling. When my sister found out that I was coming she decided to come too and bring one of her three children. I just could not go without bringing Evan with me. I'll be eating beans for months, but my family will finally meet my son.

The last time my father, my sister, my brother and I occupied the same space was 1985. Twenty-one years. Carramba, che sorpresa!

I can't wait to see everybody (especially my sister, shhhh...). I'm getting tears in my eyes even writing about it. I won't be updating my blog until after the first of June. I'll be busy checking out Elvis's mansion and drinking American coffee. My sister-in-law has already booked me into some spinning classes and gotten me pool passes. She knows me well!


Nancy Toby said...

Have a wonderful visit! We'll miss you!

anji said...

Bon voyage!!! Enjoy this time with your family!!!!!!!!!!!

so so so happy for you :)

ironjenny said...

Wow! Sounds like right now you are enjoying a long-awaited reunion. I bet they will all be so delighted to see you and meet your son.
I am one of those people who doesn't see her family. But my friends and my own family (husband and our kids) are enough for me.
I am 180 degrees different from my sibs and parents. Just works out that way sometimes.
Hope you are having fun!

TriFeist said...

How great! Enjoy the time with your family!

Ruth Pannell said...

I hope you have a great reunion. I know all about distances living in the US with my family scattered around England and Spain and the exchange rate makes things so tough too. I went for 7 years without seeing my family and was dying to see my niece. I hope you have a fantastic time and I'm sure they will love meeting Evan. Ruth

Donald said...

Have a great visit!