It’s hard to appreciate what you have if you’ve always had it and it’s impossible to miss what you’ve never had. Understanding how others feel things, trying to see through their eyes and feel through their hearts.
Let’s start at the beginning as if it were the end. Gasping for the last breath of that beautiful air that you forgot or failed to notice, to appreciate. Take it in, breath, taste it, funnel it through, let it go and look forward to the next one.
Federico was still talking and Marco was still bleeding. She felt the tranquillity in the peaceful Lagoon. They made their way back to the boat. Marco stumbled along still muttering to himself or God. Suzu ran ahead and announced himself when he got to the boat. They all waddled in with a tipsy swagger. However this time it felt easier and she giggled as she found her balance.
Marco got the motor the first time and they sped out into the canal. Someone was thirsty. She saw his smile come back as he leaned back with the motor. The wind and water ran through his hair. Proud of his territory. The sun was low and hazy clouds rested in the pastel sky. The Lagoon had completely changed colour from a moody mossy green to vibrant turquoise. It changed the colour of Lara’s eyes as if reflecting through her.
They were in the Bacino the bowl of the Grand Canal. It is not the sea nor is it a channel anymore. That's how the expanse of water between the sestiere San Marco and the island of San Giorgio is named: the Bacino San Marco.
Driving towards the Dogana where all ships had to go once upon a time when entering the city. Venice commanded respect when you entered. They passed the Doge’s Palace and St Marks. St Theodore and St Mark stood on their tall pillars where many people have been hanged under the Serenissima. They were now in the traffic flow of boats and gondolas and Marco slowed down. Taxis were full of tourists taking in the view and wasting the moment by taking thousands of photos, filming videos with their phone and trying to construe selfies. How many were actually absorbing the moment rather than trying to prove to people back home that they are having SO much fun? The world’s pressure we all feel to validate our existence in a virtual world that didn’t exist before. A platform for vanity. She felt strange as people also took pictures of their boat as they sailed under Accademia Bridge. They hooked a left in between the palaces and down a narrow canal. They pulled up to a square where some kids were running around a well in the middle and climbing all over it while the others kicked around a football. Fede helped her out and she helped Lara out and Marco casually waved as he chugged away down the canal.
“Grazie!!” She yelled as he nonchalantly waved back. How could she thank him now? She wanted to at least buy him a drink for giving her the most beautiful moments of her life for free. Maybe it really was all too normal for Venetians to gallivant around the Lagoon and be immune to the breathtaking surroundings.
They walked towards a Caffe with silver chairs and big cream umbrellas outside.
The tables were decorated with multicoloured Spritz, tourists, Signore and young students. She heard five different languages as they walked in and up to the bar.
A tiny blond ran out of the bar and jumped on Lara adorning her with kisses. Then she turned to her and handed out her hand as if in the army. “Ciao, Bea” She smiled and shook her hand with a surprising amount of strength for such a tiny human being.
“Caffé?” Fede yelled from the bar where he was chatting with the owner. A slender blond with eyes the colour of the Istrian sea. She walked up to Fede and he introduced her. She was pretending to be angry with Fede but when she turned to her she melted into a heartwarming smile and gave her a friendly wink. Bea was running in every two minutes and yelling different drinks at her. She effortlessly prepared each order, while talking seriously to Fede, greeting every new foreign customer in various languages and looking after a couple of older drunks at the bar. She watched the ballet of hospitality and felt like she was in some whirlwind of a play. Unspoken efficiency. The coffee machine was going constantly with a gentle hum. She added some Sambuca to a shaker full of coffee and passed it to Bea rolling her eyes with that friendly smile.
“Oh, Shakerato!” Bea yelped and started viciously shaking the drink and dancing behind the bar. She emptied the contents into a wine glass and pushed it her way. “Prego!” She giggled and ran back outside to take some more orders.
An iced Café Corretto. Delicious. Fede smiled back at her and she realized he had a perpetual look of satisfaction. They left the bar and walked around the corner. At this point, she’d decided to stop asking questions and just follow these people as she hadn’t died yet. In the canal sat a big boat full of crates with vegetables and fruit. A man sat over a bucket taking the bottoms off artichokes and throwing them back into another bucket. Shorter older ladies were yelling at the two young guys behind the crates to get their provisions. A girl in an apron stood patiently smoking, she had the same t-shirt as the last Caffe. Were they sister bars? The fruit guy passed over a bag of fruit to her and they laughed together while throwing gesticulations all over the place. Lara noticed her staring in awe at this boat, in the middle of a canal, conducting business as if it were all normal. She explained that it was bought by two brothers from Chioggia 50 years ago. All they sold was watermelons and they slept in the bottom of the boat for years through the cold damp winters and the humid sticky summers. From those watermelons, they made a lot of money and now own half of the houses in Campo Santa Margarita.
It was normal for them to all sleep together in a boat and even now that they were millionaires they still walked around with holes in their trousers. They didn’t look through different eyes and they still had the same hearts.