These are the words Alex and I feel we must utter to each other when we enter the grocery store. The Coop - pronounced Co-Op or coop or any other variety of ways you can seem to make the vowels and consonants twist and morph into something else - is the one place that it appears one can shake off all sense of manners taught by society. It's no wonder the Italians wish each other bona spesa (literally happy grocery shopping) prior to entering this place. It's like they are saying good luck to one another!
Take for example, this afternoon. Grocery list in hand, we wandered through the dog park, down two flights of stairs and into our local store. Immediately, we could tell it was busy. I started picking up various fruits and vegetables we needed to make meals for the next two days, while Alex went on a quest to find us a container to actually carry them in. A couple minutes later we reunited after he had wandered through lines to find a basket.
Filled to the brim with individuals and families, all loudly chatting in a foreign tongue, I stared at the lunch meat. I've been here for long enough to know what kind of lunch meat I put in my school bag each day, but I'm still confused by what the words all mean. I feel like crying out to the sky, "Haymitch, send me help from a sponsor!" But alas, nothing is sent, and no cell reception means Google Translate isn't available either. Why I don't think about using the World Lens app is another story, but at this point, I'm feeling anxious. This place is no walk in the park - if you want an easy walk, you should have stayed two floors up and above ground with the dogs and their owners!
Next up, chicken and mussels; both of which I know they should have. However, getting there is no easy feat. Products on pallets waiting to be shelved are left haphazardly around in the aisles waiting for their rightful place. One must dodge the breadsticks, large families debating their cheese choices, and abandoned shopping carts to actually reach the back wall.
And that is when we see it. So strange. So foreign. 100% circa 1994, not 2014. A lady, receiver in hand, chatting on a bag phone. Oh no, I think, we are distracted. But I can't stop laughing! Who has a bag phone in this day in age?!? The Italians may value preserving their way of life and the thousands of years of history present in this nation, but who would hang on to a bag phone and keep using it! My husband must snap a photo before we continue on.
We continue our darting, dodging, climbing, and at times grimacing from getting hit to collect the rest of our food. We knew today would be a big trip, so we tote around 2 large bags as well. Everything we purchase, we must carry home ourselves. Gone are the days of lazily tossing bags into our car and walking them into our kitchen. Gone are the days of the short walk from our trunk to our apartment. Here, we earn our food, working off calories just to get it home!
A quick inventory reveals that we forgot lunch - the very meal we are going home to eat immediately after our time in the Hunger Games. Alex leaves me in line with our now two shopping baskets, and dashes across the store to grab a few more items. Now is when I need to pull out my weapons. I fight, not with a bow and arrow, but with elbows out shifting my hips around and standing closer to others than my American sense of distance cares to be. This is normal. This is the way things are. Soon I will be out and will be promised safety. Ha! What lies. Soon I will be back! For no one is safe from the Hunger Games. After all, one can only carry so much home!
The Two Teachers
He teaches math and science. She teaches 4th grade. Together, they have moved to Italy to start a new chapter. Follow along to hear of their European travels and educational adventures.
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