This week I found myself in 5 different government buildings on yet another life “scavenger hunt”. I stood back and admired the downtown Manhattan historical buildings that now house the evidence of the cities past and present inhabitants. And somewhere in those expansive halls are the documents that my great grandparents signed. I have started the process to gain Italian citizenship.
What I will do with this I do not yet know. But what I do know is that the next step in reclaiming my roots is to have the paperwork to show what I have always felt, that I am American…that I am Italian. Once again I will connect with the 5’5 dark haired man that braved the oceans with his soon to be bride in search of his own dreams. Perhaps he and I had that in common, dreamers by nature.
True to NYC standard I found myself rerouted from building to building in search of the documents. On an elevator in one government building I noticed that one floor not listed just showed as X as we passed it. I wondered as to the mysteries that might be housed on that floor. At another point a doorman directed me to the 8th floor where I found rows of old files and ancient expansive dusty books lining shelfs. Much like the books in my original daydream as a young girl in search of my history.
On my first day I managed to track down a copy of the marriage certificate of Michele Maiuzzo and Giacoma Bruno, my great grandparents. It was signed in the year 1900. Ultimately I must collect all of the appropriate paperwork to prove my lineage, and it is difficult as documents are not always preserved. But I have a feeling the search itself may continue to open doors.
Already I see how my trip has continued to open the doors inside of me. I have begun to try to live like an Italian here in the bustling city of NYC. I have tried to take things a bit slower. And talking to people with a slower pace.
The other day I had my tax appointment in Harlem. My tax guy is great, always welcoming and cares about his customers. But as far as New York standards go, he moves at a snails pace. Each year I would have my appointment during a work day. My mind would be racing and I would find myself anxious to get it done so I could get back to work.
This year, I realized that he was just on Italian time, and I sat back to enjoy it with him. This led to an hour and half conversation about our past years. I shared pictures and stories with him and he told me about the exotic foods he has eaten on his travels. He is an adventurer too. And a dreamer. For the first time in my life a tax guy offered me wine during our meeting. We did a cheers to the year and to following dreams (ching ching). At the end he said we were kindred spirits and I had to agree. In fact, I think more of us are kindred spirits than we realize. We just have to slow down long enough to share a glass of wine and a dream.