A return to Venice is like no other sensation. Like any good theatrical event, it's best to plan one's return with some flair. Venice is a city of the sea, given its birth by the briny lagoon. Therefore one should always, always approach her by boat. Any other way is simply not right.
We have done this before, perhaps a dozen times. And so Venice holds our memories for us as well as its own—as if they were encased in amber, frozen in murky time. Maybe the city is sinking because it holds so much, too much for its own good. It has its ghosts. On this day I feel like one of them.
A boat has been prearranged. It idles as we lug our bags to it with jet-lagged bleariness. It's all a dream. Venice is always a dream. We step on with the aid of our driver. The boat tips and sends us backwards to our seats. We giggle with giddiness. The dream is real. Venice is but a short ride through the marked channel. It will only be minutes now.
I photograph every moment of the ride, not wanting to forget a second of it. The leaning campanili grow closer. Our boat finds its entry into the city and suddenly we are here! The memories flood back with the flowing tide. We look up, up, up at the buildings and bustling bridges. We duck as our expert pilot navigates under the bridges at high tide. We screech with delight as he barely makes under one particular bridge. The jet lag is gone but the ghosts start appearing. Today they seem friendly.
Being away from Venice for a few years makes the return all the better. The city startles one at first, no matter how many times you've been there. I gasp at its beauty, sense its history, feel my own relationship with the city. My own ghosts mingle with those of the ancient empire. I breathe in the briny smell that is uniquely Venetian. The city has a smell all its own, a pleasant stink that tells me I'm back.
And I am back—back in the city that haunts my dreams. A little bit of me is always here. I say hello to him as well as we get off the boat and onto the terra firma. The ground isn't so firm, however, as a wave of jet lag returns. I need to breathe to relax myself. I find myself hyperventilating with excitement.
The journey is only beginning. It is the best of all worlds—the very start of a new, Venetian adventure.