Monday, August 30, 2010
I couldn’t believe I was going to Venice. I kept saying the word in my head over and over: “Venice, Venice, Venice…”, but incredulity still held a firm grip over me. I’ve thought about traveling to exotic places for the longest time that it felt almost dreamlike to cruise through the City of Canals. I had high expectations, eagerly anticipating the moment when I’d be swept off my feet by the beauty around me. I was so ready to be overwhelmed by all the different elements that compose Venice that I was practically spitting poetry.
The truth however is far simpler and much less frilly. You don’t necessarily hear instrumental music as the waterbus, bus dell’acqua, navigates down the Grand Canal. You don’t exactly feel singled out from the rest of the people crammed in the ferry, vaporetto, trying to reach the other side of the city. And you don’t essentially absorb the heart, cuore, of Venice by clinking pictures at historical sights. I found myself fascinated by the perfectly “normal” feeling I had just standing in the City of Water. Where was the jolt of awe and amazement, I wondered. Why weren’t my knees getting weak at the sight of this Italian landscape?
Unwilling to be disheartened, I traveled deeper, to the Piazza San Marco, the principal square of Venice. Here, people, pigeons, shops and restaurant chairs coat all around. It was impressive, the antique ambiance pulsing through the historic structures surrounding the square. Yet, as I saw so many tourists crowd around the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica di San Marco, I couldn’t help but to feel a pull to drift in other directions. I wanted to see what other people might overlook… I wanted to catch a glimpse of Venice’s true charm.
Weaving through the city’s aged corridors it wasn’t difficult to understand how easily one could get lost. And I don’t just mean this in a literal sense. Venice gives the impression of an everlasting labyrinth, where every corner instills curiosity, every passageway extends an invitation to explore further and every bridge emits a thrill of discovery. There is so much authentic beauty etched into the city itself that you can find it anywhere you turn, the churches, the balconies, the canals, the gardens, the gondolas, and even in those hungry pigeons that harass tourists.
It was then that I realized... you can get so drawn in by the quintessence surrounding you, but only if you’re willing to look beyond the surface, beyond the crowds, beyond the tourism. There, is where you’ll find the heart of Venice. The allure, the pull of appreciation, is like a subtle whisper, a slight breeze you may not be able to see but ever so slowly you feel it sway you. It brings a smile to your face and makes you falter when you know its time to leave.
In the end, I wasn’t disappointed. To witness a place where time has engraved its mark, and still continues to shape the buildings, the language and the people, is truly enchanting. Venice is one of a kind. And I am not immune to its charm. Taking one last look at this floating city, I could almost hear the words that made it unforgettable… sono uno spirito del vecchio mondo, Venice said to me. That same old-world spirit is what breathes life into the city. And I was genuinely delighted to revel in that fulfilling impression, even for a day.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Drowsy and dazed I roll over, my mind a blur and my vision hardly something to trust at the moment. I blink. I blink again. Ever so slowly… I smile. I come awake amidst the ambush of sunlight. I lay still, luxuriating in the experience of beginning a new day. I strain to hear what awaits me upon my consciousness. Almost unavoidably, noise and chaos feeds my hearing… I smile wider. Yep, I’m still home.
No sense in lingering, so I rise and go about my morning ritual, my mind already wondering on the possibilities of keeping busy. I go straight for the radio and hope I get lucky with a good song. If not, I try to settle among the poor options. My body immediately latches on to a rhythm and thoughtlessly begins to move me. I face my unsavory reflection, and grimace. One more quick inspection, and I laugh at the funny looking lady on the other side.
Underneath my skin, I feel a distant calling; it simmers through my veins, calmly anticipating the chance to step outside. I’m anxious even. Soon, I try to reassure myself, still having to laugh at the toothpaste dripping down my chin. Ready to move on, I face the staircase that’ll lead me to the other half of the house. I look down at it with suspicion. One misstep and you’ll go tumbling down the whole flight – I learned that the hard way.
After a brief hesitation, I take each step with dubious care, treating it like a ruthless death trap. I sigh with great triumph as I reach the trusting flat surface, unscathed. At this point, I’m not only starved for breakfast but eager to stretch out under the morning sun. Call me a lizard, but I can’t help it. With a few subtle steps, avoiding the distracting bedlam of other family members, I make it outside underneath that shining star. Instantly, I melt. Not because of the heat. Just… because. I love it. The sensation of the sun raining down on me is utterly relaxing. Every single limb attached to my body is massaged with a warm hand, every layer beneath my skin is caressed with a sure and steady grasp, every nerve in my being sighs with absolute satisfaction as the sunlight seeps into my bones. And I melt.
I do my best to try and savor this carefree sensation. Heck, I’m about ready to swim in it until I get wrinkly. Eventually I look around, taking in the beauty of the day. I’m powerless against my surroundings, I have to stare with appreciation and admiration. I absolutely love how the sun brightens every single surface it touches with a rich, hot golden blaze, that almost pulses, alive with fire; the play of colors that grace the mountains at a distance, they seem so vivid as to blush with radiance; the shifting of the restless leaves in the green and yellow trees as the wind brushes by; the way the grass sways with little encouragement under the polish of sunlight… I breathe it all in… feeling fulfilled and completely pleased. Almost reluctantly, I think about how I should get back inside. I’m not exactly looking to roast under the sun either. It takes a few more minutes before I successfully convincing myself to turn away though.
But, in a second, I stop, something catches my undivided attention, which under normal circumstances is not an easy thing to accomplish… yet something so small as a golden leaf dancing through the swirling air, can take my breath away. Speechless I watch, wishing I was that free and lighthearted. I see that tiny grace of nature, flutter in the wind, ageless as it drifts with no exact course or direction, and still, it seems to glide joyfully through the air. For that peaceful moment, I take it all in… and give thanks to the Lord above the blue blue sky.
Then? … then I smile, a big goofy face consuming, lips-will-never-recover smile, from the inside out… because, well, it could be just because, but really… because that is my happiness.