the gondola glides along
bearing a coffin.
My memories of Venice begin the day I was searching the family bookshelf and I came upon an old school book full of short stories. As I read them I would often stop to ponder the picture on the cover of the book, The Basilica of San Marco in Venice.
After a year at college I lived a year abroad. I worked in London saving money for a month of European travel. I stopped in Venice during those travels arriving early in the morning. As I ambled about with my ancient backpack, my self-repaired top sider shoes and longish hair I must have been a sight. Wandering around until I came upon Piazza San Marco and the Basilica I found history beyond my comprehension based in a place that contends with the imagination in its current and oft dreamed of, past, incarnation.
Not long after my return to California I attended a white elephant party where a friend gifted me a small long hand drawn black and white scene from Venice knowing how much I was fascinated with the place. I hung it pride wherever I lived and would often try to guess where exactly in Venice the picture portrayed.
The next time I was in Venice was as part of a team of gondoliers participating in the Vogalonga a 22 mile regatta with 1500 boats and 5000 rowers. It had been 10 years since my first visit to Venice and every thing was similar and yet different. Different mainly because I had been a gondolier in the US for a year and over time had read up on the history of Venice and it made it a pleasure to really understand what it was I was seeing. When I saw a gondolier rowing I realized that despite my training I really did not know how to row and that moment of realization is the moment when I became a gondolier