05 October 2005
self portrait tuesday (okay wednesday) #9
six years ago today, we were in italy... more specifically, we had just left venice and were beginning our explorations of the city of florence. each year around this time, I read through that little black suede travel journal, look through my (still unfinished) scrapbook and watch the video footage. have you ever taken a trip like that? one that was perfect in most every way? one that you'd like to go back and re-live over and over, one that sort of defines your life experiences? italy was all that for me.
the planning of this trip began shortly after I suffered a miscarriage in november of 1998. it had been our first pregnancy and we were over the moon about it. family and friends had been excitedly called, names were already being discussed... and then, so suddenly, we lost it. we were in shock, paralyzed by a sort of unfamiliar sadness and frankly, not quite sure what to do with ourselves. when it came time to try again, I found that I was scared to death. it had been so physically and emotionally painful, such a horrific experience (an entirely different story for another day) that I could not even bring myself to think of another pregnancy. we wanted a family but decided we needed some time, just a little more time to heal. and so on a cold january night, we started to talk about traveling. we thought maybe we needed to take a big trip before we brought babies into our lives. initially, we had wanted to backpack through europe but were overwhelmed by the broadness of it. finally, we settled on italy. our combined years of art history coupled with my italian heritage sort of sealed the deal and well, that was that. I threw myself head first into the planning and research and it was all I could think about, all the time. every penny went into savings. I tried to teach myself the language (forced it down ward's throat, too, playing cassette tapes in the car whenever I could). once I mastered certain phrases, I couldn't stop. I loved the rhythm, the cadence of the language. "ABBIAMO BISOGNO D'INDICAZIONE!", I'd proclaim to no one in particular at the local k-mart (which means: I need directions). yes, I was driving everyone crazy but truly, it was the best thing for me, all this dreaming, this planning. it was just what I needed.
and it was an almost perfect trip. the weather was perfect, the hotels were perfect, everything was just as I imagined, only better, a thousand times better. save for an unfortunate gondola incident and a disaster involving the closing of the train station in rome, I can do nothing but wax poetic. in fact, I could fill a big fat book with all the wonderfully delicious little details. so much art, so much history, culture, so much beauty. venice swallowed me whole with all the teeny tiny alleyways, the fragrant hanging laundry, the large wooden shuttered windows in our hotel room that begged to be ceremoniously flung open each afternoon as the singing gondoliers passed us by. the vibrant, not-to-be-believed colors of the island of burano, the hundreds of pigeons in piazza san marco. and florence will forever have my heart, what with all the buzzing vespas, with michelangelo's david and botticelli's venus and the exhilarating, terrifying climb to the top of the duomo's belltower. florence has the most fabulous fleamarkets ever and was also where I experienced the best meal of my entire life (at il cantinone, a hidden restaurant in a cellar that we quite literally stumbled upon). the sunflowers of tuscany, the smell of grapes, of wine, of the earth. and rome- grittier, dirtier and more human than I had imagined but so fantastic. crumbling and ancient, but completely urban. so many fountains, so much, so much, so much. too much. my head is spinning just thinking about it all. and the love. oh, the love. shortly after we arrived back home, we discovered that I was pregnant. and that ava-girl of ours was born about nine months later.
so, if you feel like taking a little trip to italy, come along with me. click here to be magically transported.