“If you don’t like it, it’s really okay — it’s not for everyone.”
These were the words I spoke to Adam in February 2013, in advance of his very first trip to Venice, Italy.
But inside, I was both nervous and hopeful that he would fall in love with La Serenissima as much as I had over the course of the nearly twenty years I have been going (my first trip was in July 1994), to hide, to recharge, to fall in love again… she was my own private Idaho — I had been to her far more alone than accompanied, but she was heartbreakingly 6,000 miles and a full 24 hours door-to-door away.
It had always been a forgone conclusion by anyone who knew me — friends, family, co-workers — that I would one day live in Venice. “Oh, you know she’s going there eventually,” people would often say to my mother… and my mother always agreed, she knew I belonged there as well.
I hadn’t known Adam for more than three months when I bought the tickets. We met in June 2012, and I had already fallen so hard, that I was willing to share my secret hideaway with him. I bought the plane tickets in August — it was quite a bold gesture — but my plan was to give them as a Christmas present… again, another very bold thought to think we might still be together, even as much as to celebrate the holidays together. But I felt I was being guided by a divine hand, and somehow I knew this was the right thing to do.
Adam had written a poem once on Facebook long before he met me and it strangely inspired me — another divine hand:
“Many forks in the road, pulling this way and that… So many directions, hard to see the right track. For the first time in life, chasing after dreams… While pursued by reality, things aren’t often what they seem. Much easier to settle, quitting would be simple. It is much harder lead, which is done by example. When the sight of old baggage, rears its ugly head… Pack a new suitcase, and venture out instead.” -A.
My plan was to give him a new suitcase along with the plane ticket (and a framed copy of his poem), as a symbol of the last line — as an omen of good things to come. To my dismay, he found out about the trip days later, but I still had the symbolic suitcase and poem to give as my gift to this wonderful man who had changed my life completely — including my plans of living in Venice. I knew that wherever he was, I would call home. And if that meant Long Beach, California for the rest of my life, then that’s where home would be.
But the divine hand entered yet again…
“If you don’t like it, it’s really okay, it’s not for everyone…”
Venice still held it’s bond with me, but my love for Adam was so much stronger, that I knew if he didn’t love her as much as I, it would truly be okay with me. I could say goodbye to her — and in fact, that was what I was planning to do — say goodbye, because I no longer needed her refuge.
The question was answered soon enough, as I saw the look on Adam’s face beginning to soften, the deepening cadence of the rhythm of his voice (becoming silent at times, which is a very unusual place for Adam), the pace of his otherwise programmed frenetic hustle slowing to thoughtful movements — as his mortal coil left terrafirma on a boat headed to my sinking, floating, glowing city.
He said that his anticipation really started to build when we left the airport, the last place on the mainland, as the reality set in that we were going to a magical place, without roads, much less cars, or further, wheeled vehicles of any kind. A floating city, that not only survives, but thrives, with water being its only access. A place unlike any other on earth, rich beyond measure in history, culture and romance — a place whose heart beats with the gentility, courteousness, and graciousness of centuries past.
We spent ten days there. Walking the dark, empty calli at night, delighting in the small dustings of snow outside while we warmed ourselves with grappa and hot chocolate inside cicchetti bars during the day, venturing nearly a full day round trip via vaporetto just to have a special bowl of risotto that can be found nowhere else in the world.
At some point around mid-way though our trip, I sheepishly asked, “So, what do you think? Do you think you could see yourself living here?” To which he replied, “I’ll call the movers.”
And so, as the divine hand would have it, we are moving, five months from today. December 1, 2014 we shall be Venetians.