Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13, 2017

Restless night, punctuated with dreams. In the last, we were shopping at a great mall that sat at the bottom of steep hills. While we were shopping, a blizzard came up, and the roads were snow covered, slick, all but impassable. I was driving the first car I ever owned, the moon-colored Toyota station wagon, and even with vehicles sliding and stalling all around me, I knew I could make it out. But in pity I stopped the car to assist others. One long-haired man was sitting on an old fashioned wooden kitchen chair, almost invisible in the snow, which he said he had been riding. Another was guiding a snow plow which had stalled and would not move. I seemed in the dream to know everybody, though who they were I don’t remember. I gave my car to somebody who was stranded and tried to ride the kitchen chair up the hill and out. The snow was blinding all around, and I realized it was either an illusion or the chair was actually moving. I assumed I’d never see my own car again, but some time after I reached the top of the hill, a big man appeared with all the stranded vehicles, including mine, being lead on long ropes, as if they were dogs. He said, “You should have known everything would turn out right.”

Though my suitcase is small, my carry-on tiny, and neither of them filled to capacity, I have never failed to over-pack. At least half my clothes are going to go unworn.

Father’s birthday. Somehow I’ve always been able to imagine him in Venice, even before I came here. I wonder if he would have recognized the connection.

Crossed the Rialto bridge–in the company of a billion selfie-taking Japanese–and bought radishes in the open markets on the other side. The radishes were bland but beautiful to look at. Walked & walked. Sat at a cafĂ© with orange tablecloths and wrote a little, and the proprietress seemed fascinated (and a little disbelieving) that I was a writer. I was in a part of town where there were no tourists but me. Whether I was actually I can’t tell, but I wanted to be. All the shopkeepers’ English was halting and there were no Japanese. Bought a tiny tapestry bearing the Lion of Saint Mark. Took a late afternoon boat tour of the Grand Canal. Informative, despite the little Arab girl who kept screaming over the guide. She’d probably never not been the center of attention for that long. Difficult time getting into the boat and actually fell flat getting out. Perhaps that’s the end of that. The boat guide explained that Venice’s population continues to ebb because there’s nothing for the young to do and it is impossible for the old to get about. She pointed out a prison built for aristocrats who paid no takes. We three Americans in the boat looked at one another and said in unison, “Donald.”

It’s 6:50 and a bell rings frantically. Fire? Mayhem? Saracens?

Changing plans, because the water bus cannot get me to the airport in time for my flight, and the private water taxi turns out to cost exactly the same as a night in the Best Western on dry land. Will leave the city Wednesday afternoon and spend the night in the hotel near the airport. I hereby prophesy that my flight will be delayed and this precaution will be nullified, but at least I’ll have had two good nights’ sleep.

This is the time in my trips where I begin to feel like a native, striking up conversations with bartenders, recognizing faces I’ve seen before, scorning tourists. This is also the time when I reflect that no one misses me in particular back home, and no one will rejoice in particular at my return. This is a curious thing. I don’t remember choosing any such road, but there it is, lying as far back and as far forward as the eye can see. Deeply lonely and deeply free. I just wish I remembered choosing.

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