We sat at the base of a column holding the marble building above the lagoon. The Giudecca stretched out to our right, St. Mark’s across the mouth of the Grand Canal to our left. No matter what time of year, or what type of weather, Venice makes me tired. The sea breeze played with my hair as we sat in a contented silence in the shadow. The waves splashed against the cement.
The first picture of me from the spring I studied abroad was on that point. In my red trench coat, I braced myself against the gusts of the January wind. Smiling in the sun and awaiting adventure. I got up and reframed the camera, took three steps forward and turned around.
“If anyone had told me I’d be standing here again today eight years later, I wouldn’t have believed them,” I said to my husband. A girl walked up to us then, after taking her own photos off of the point and asked if we wanted her to take a photo of us.
Why not – we said. So now I have matching pictures – one as an American student, one as an international wife.
Afterward, we searched for a bar that was recommended to us, but felt we should keep walking – something about the wandering canals and corners of Venice do that – they urge you to keep walking, keep discovering another vision of color and thriving antiquity.
We finally stopped on a narrow side of a canal – four round tables placed at the bows of the wooden boats moored in the water. The woman inside was absolutely a local – greeting regulars with passing hello’s and making our Bellini’s with the freshest peach juice I have ever tasted. As we sat in the evening glow of a perfect day in the city of bridges, we watched as the passing gondoliers called out their greetings to Bruna, a woman sitting at the table next to us. One teased her about being late to an event further in town. She waved him away with false annoyance. Smirking at him as he pushed past her in the canal. She finished her soda water and walked down the way to the bridge leading deeper into town, stopping to fix her hair in the reflection of a nearby storefront, and scaling the steps she must have taken a thousand times over in her life.