When Lisa and I rounded the corner, I let out a noise. It was probably one of the ugliest noises I’ve ever made in my life (and you’ve heard my laugh). It was an airy hybrid of a muffled scream, a gasp, and a choke….and the worst part was as we kept getting closer I kept making it. So guided by Lisa’s arm alone, I stumbled slowly– audibly and unexpectedly dying in public– with my eyes locked so tightly on the bright skeleton ahead of me that you would have needed to wrestle me to the ground to have loosened it. The grand luminosity made my eyes well, and for a second the infamous shape got blurry. It had to have been the bright lights that brought on the tears, because to cry over this would be silly, right?
But as we closed in on the edge of the balcony, my noises gave way to an abrupt silence. Breathing was difficult; I didn’t understand. By the time we reached the gate, streams of surprise were tearing down my face. As I stared, my heart erupted (I had a volcano for a heart this whole time? How did I spend my life not realizing I had a mountain inside me?), a lava of the same electric golden hue slowly pulsing through my chest (How is that possible? To feel the warmth of a color running inside you?) and I stood there, overflowing. And now I know for sure that’s what it’s like.
To fall deeply in love, I mean.Thank you, Paris.
You know what I liked about Venice? It wasn’t practical. The place wasn’t thought out at all. A city on water was just such a beautiful idea; silly people took little islands and forced them together by stones and bridges. The buildings have crumbled only to be patched hastily but meaningfully back together. It’s so genuinely and naturally attractive that one engages with it knowing it’s an expensive date, aware every cent is just payment to look at it a little longer.
To me, Venice wasn’t true love. It wasn’t like what I felt in Paris. It didn’t seem easy– in fact, it seemed quite hard. It’s bright colors and rivers of romance didn’t fool me– when I looked close, I saw how ready she was for a storm. I saw how the rivers could quickly become floods. The city smiled for the cameras, swayed mysteriously for the tourists…. but I saw the strain under the façade. From the beginning, Venice was destined to be weathered by the world, fated to fall.
What I admired about Venice was that it wasn’t True Love at all; what I found instead was Real Love. It was a failure that was pursued anyway, without question and for no other reason than that it spoke to someone’s heart a long, long time ago. None of it made sense, it was confusing and frustrating to navigate. There was so many opportunities to get lost… And yet still, you couldn’t bring yourself to leave. The senselessness was what gave it life, what nurtured the passion. The soft affections were built into the bridges, what flowed through it’s water. You could tell it would fight through the toughest storms until it reached the bitter end…however and whenever, no one seemed to know or care. It was only that deep, true dedication to forcing so much wrong fit to be right that made it work.And it did, it really did.
And I think that, in a lot of ways, is Real Love.