My first time to Europe was when I was 6. Although young, I brag about how much I still remember. I remember getting lost in Brussels finding our rented purple minivan. I remember getting peed on by the land lord’s dog in Oxford. I remember thinking “Star Light Express” was the best play I had ever seen in London. And I remember feeling like Switzerland was heaven on earth with it’s cool temps after weeks of sweltering Italian heat. Speaking of that Italian heat, most of those early memories of me in this new world come from my time in Venice, Italy.
I remember complaining a lot about the heat throughout that full summer in Europe. My mom still jokingly (I think?) reminds my sister and me how bratty we were. And trust me she is right. My dad started calling us vampires, as we just could not deal with the sun. My sister and I ate that joke up. Finally adding a little light to our attitudes. Although hot, I remember loving Venice. I loved San Marco Square so much my parents paid money to get bird food so the pigeons would come to me and hang. As a New Yorker, now, that thought is terrifying. I remember the day turning to twilight and then turning to night and dancing with the singers along the square. My sister and I were dancing machines as kids and the Venetian singers thrived off that. I danced into the night with these performers, and they all were so kind and joyful. And by into the night I mean probably until about 8pm since, you know, we were 6.
21 years later I finally got the chance to get back to a city that has always stayed in my heart. Although the trip down from the Soca Valley in Slovenia for the day was ambitious, I am so glad we made the time to go. The algae along the intricate buildings was a great juxtaposition that only someone older than 6 could appreciate. San Marco Basilica was more beautiful than my memory proved and the hidden corners made we want to keep wandering. I thought of the people who built Venice up. The first Venetians. How did they wander these streets? When I drank a 21 Euro Bellini at Harry’s I thought of Hemmingway and where he might have sat. The aura he must have brought to the room. In the end, finally coming back to my own thoughts and memories and footsteps, both old and new, of Venice, and that being enough.