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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Postponing the Inevitable

I still have colorful Euro bills in my wallet. I also have Euro coins (and some smaller denominations thereof) in my coin purse. I also have a few postage stamps left in my wallet.

I finally put my passport away in my desk drawer. As much as it made me happy to catch an occasional glimpse of it in my purse, I don't want to risk losing it.

On Thursday, I took the well-used Italian-only map of Venice out of my coat pocket. I think I accidentally stole it from someone but it was a better map than the one I brought with me. I also threw away some receipts.

I still haven't dealt with my laundry though. I haven't put away my clothes and I'm still figuring out what gifts I bought and who I meant to give them to.

And sadly, my reveries of Venice are becoming less frequent and less vivid already. And it's only been a week. Usually I last longer. I'm still reading Venice, by Jan Morris, to keep the images and feelings alive in my mind for a while longer. It makes me sad to see that I'm returning to "normal" life again so soon. Mostly it's the sense of wonder and appreciation that I miss more than anything.

Yesterday, to stem the slowly seeping-away feeling, The Boy and I watched two films in which Venice is a primary character. One was recommended by two different friends: Summertime (1955), starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossanno Brazzi (man, is this guy good looking!), about a lonely American secretary who finds love in the arms of a gorgeous Italian man (um, why why why did I not see anyone in Venice who looked like this guy?!! It's probably a good thing that I didn't or else I might not have returned home.)

The other movie, A Little Romance (1979), was recommended by none other than The Boy himself, who still is in love with Diane Lane based on his seeing this film when he was twelve. I was lucky enough to find a used DVD of this film.

Both movies were filmed on location in Venice (A Little Romance was filmed on location in Paris, too, so that's big bonus for me right there) and both movies do capture the look and feel of Venice to some extent.

Katherine Hepburn was more tolerable to me than usual (sorry, I'm not a huge fan), although we couldn't help wondering why the guy was interested in her in the first place. David Lean, the director of Summertime, took great aerial views and sweeping pans of Venice (maybe not in Lawrence of Arabia epic proportions, but still genuinely breathtaking) and edited the film in such a way that you believed that Hepburn had every imaginable pictoresque view of Venice from her budget pensione balcony.

Both films captured the grandioseness of Venice and the romantic otherworldness of it, especially in the canals. It was fun to pause the film and exclaim occasionally, "Ooh, ooh, that's the Basilica de S. Maria della Salute! I was there!" or "That's the Doge's Palace, and across the water is the church designed by Palladio, oh, and see those columns...I was talking to you on my cell phone right there when I ran out of batteries!" Rather than holing up on the sofa with Rick Steves in Italy (I already did that anyway), I got to relive Venice in glorious Technicolor and set to lovely background music.

I'm sure there will come a day soon when I'm tired of sorting through the Euro coins in my coin purse to find an American quarter, and when the stamps in my wallet get grungy and torn. Just as there was a day when I washed the last carnet ticket for the Paris metro I had in my jeans and the little muslin teabag from Mariage Freres fell out of my coat pocket. But I'm going to try real hard to postpone that day for as long as I can. Venice is too amazing, too vibrant, too dreamlike to lose it so soon.

Today, I found this Anaïs Nin postcard through StumbleUpon.

I'm sure you can't possibly read the text but here's what it says:

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book...or you take a trip..and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure.

That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children.

And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song and it awakens them and saves them from death.

Some never awaken.

I will be sure to read this quote to myself whenever I feel the onslaught of hibernation coming over me. It is inexorable and one must be vigilant.

On second thought, I have decided that I will never take the Euros out of my wallet. That will help a little.


La Tanguera November 4, 2007 at 6:47 PM  

Dear Tango Baby,

Wow, beautifully written post. Many thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous November 4, 2007 at 7:57 PM  

Welcome home TB. Writing like this should not be kept from the 'sphere.

Thank you, and happy awakenings.

TP November 5, 2007 at 7:31 AM  


I had been through a few of those awakening trips myself: Paris, the French countryside, Tuscany, Venice, eastern Europe... And now Buenos Aires.

Even though the memorabilia and thousands of photos I took are long gone, the memories are more vivid as life goes on. You would never lose the memory of your Venice trip. It could only be sweeter as time goes on, like fine red wine aging.

And keep the Euro, the value of it is going up.

Yours truly

the Formerly known as TJ, now TP

tangobaby November 5, 2007 at 10:34 AM  

Dear La Tanguera,

I think it's the things we feel strongly about that write themselves and seem effortless. Words literally flow. As always, I appreciate your readership and thank you for the compliment.


Dear Johanna,

Thank you for the welcome home wishes! I just have to figure out how to have these awakenings more often. Sometimes I am better at it than others.


Dear tp (formerly known as TJ),

It sounds like you've had some wonderful life-changing experiences abroad. I will wait with anticipation to hear about your trip to BA.

You are right. I know that I will never lose the memory of this trip. I just like to feel it and the joy of discovery in my bones. I suffer from wanderlust more often than I care to admit.

As always, thank you for sharing.


Elizabeth November 6, 2007 at 1:19 PM  

And God knows, sometimes people get married, have babies, make life time decisions about careers, places to live...all the while they are in that "hibernating" life. Waking up can be rough.

tangobaby November 6, 2007 at 3:38 PM  

Hi Elizabeth,

I agree, waking up can be incredibly tough. Having your world upended can be amazingly painful and harsh.

And I don't think that having a family life and normal job excludes you from the pleasures of living. I know there are many many people who enjoy a bountiful family life and find every joy and pleasure in that world.

I, for one, was one of those people she was talking about: someone who was hibernating in an unhappy marriage, pointless job and boring future, all of which would have eventually been the death of my spirit and probably my person, as well.

So, to me, this quote is rather poignant and powerful as I see in it the alternate life I almost had, and escaped. I made a vow to never return to a state of unconscioussness, if I could possibly help myself.

Travel, for me, is one way of shaking things up a bit.

But now I think that tango, too, serves such a purpose for many of us.

robin bird October 20, 2008 at 2:50 AM  

the quote just made my spine tingle. you do know how to capture a feeling dear girl. thank you for leading me here today with your loving e-mail.