Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Out of Venezia

Well, she might have had a House in Ahhhhhhfrica, but I have one in Venice. I cannot tell you what street it is on, because street names mean nothing here, it is all in knowing which side of the canal is yours. I wandered today for several hours on tiring feet(thank God for Puma, though a litter would have better) trying to find the Bigleterria I think it’s called(as you all know I have a hard enough time spelling in English, but as Herbie-Huhbie he called himself, being Southern) Merritt, my Olde English prof at Stanford told me, as he and Joe Herben (Huhben) my Chaucer professor at Bryn Mawr had told their classmate Scott at Princeton, ‘If you write well enough someone will spell for you.”
Finally found the ticket office and now have official card to go on the Vaporetto for a month which is the least time I stay here, I think, though never say ever. The place that sells Broadband I never found, and maybe that is for the best, as I don’t want to spend too much time on the e-mail so I will have full focus for the novel if it comes. Most of my morning was spent trying to send from a regular computer at the Internet place on the corner when you can find what corner it is, and because I had never used a mouse(I have a keypad) it took me fifty minutes to send two messages and that cost six Euros.
But the Daily Word, (the magazine of Unity to which I subscribe as those of you who know me well or even a little know, I am eclectic in my search for spiritual faith, often not having any) today was ‘Something New.’ So I decided to try Something New and live my life instead of just writing about it. I have missed most of the places I’ve been, so busy was I trying to create a book, a poem, an article, whatever would take me to a more interesting future and so I have failed to experience the present, where I am, as if I had been forever texting even before it became a disease. Today I was everywhere I actually was, and it was really wonderful, as I was in Venice. Could have done without San Marco and the Rialto where I was really afraid I might die and then that I wouldn’t, but I finally got to a salad on the deck by the canal, and actually tasted. The lettuce was nature fresh and good enough so you thought you could like lettuce.
Walking through those little alleyways afterwards I could not help thinking of times in Venice past when I was fixated on buying things, and thought ‘When you are happy and present you don’t need to buy things.’ Nevertheless I did buy a purse. Big and soft and a color of red just off enough so it isn’t obtrusive or offensive, and big enough to carry everything in. Then I got on the Vaporetto with my painfully acquired pass that nobody asked to see, and got off at what I hoped was the right vaporetto stop and walked up a pretty street where there was a snack place called ‘La Revista.’ Having passed up the public toilet and saved the 1 Euro 50 they charge you to pee in public places, figured the 7. 50 Euro sundae was a bargain, especially since it involved a clean loo. I ordered the extravagant sundae I had resisted eating my whole life, but did tell them to hold the whipped cream, and relieved, went inside and relieved myself.
There was an elderly couple at the next table when I returned and we started to talk and of course it turned out he had been a professor at Bryn Mawr when I was there. But he taught math and the reason I went to Bryn Mawr was that they didn’t have a Math requirement to graduate. Nevertheless he spoke in terms of mathematics being actually poetic and his sense of loss when I brilliant student of his opted out for a course with Marianne Moore who appeared that year at Bryn Mawr, her AlMA Mater that semester, and went on in sensitive terms about what mathematics was or is, and told me he had helped Nash get his Nobel prize(a Beautiful Mind, see Russell Crowe, but not too closely) and then he spoke of what a coincidence it was that he and his wife should be there and we should speak but I don’t think so, since I don’t believe in coincidence with something like that, because what would it be, as my friend Taffy used to say, but ‘of course.’ Of course I drove through Bali and standing in the road when I didn’t even know he was there or how to get in touch with him was Jack. So of course I would sit down in Venice next to a teacher who’d been at Bryn Mawr and his wide. She complimented me on my purse, and I confessed how compromised I felt having given in to material feelings in view of the spirituality I was operating on for the day, but she pronounced it “a happy purse,” and said I had done the right thing. I would have invited them to my house for a drink but I couldn’t remember quite where it was.
Trying to find my way home there was yet another adventure. M. Rusconi, the great gentleman recently retired as Director of the Cipriani, had a dog once named Iago who actually made his way back to his house after having followed his master to the train station unobserved and forgotten, but I am not so smart as Iago. Desperate, finally, I called Connie Rusconi, his wife and mother of Pietro whose beautiful little house I am lucky enough to be renting after my escape from Capranica and asked her the name of my street. But she didn’t know either, so I returned with her on the phone guiding me by way of landmarks, churches, the place where their older daughter Francesca went to school. And now I am safe, unless the waters rise(you have to put metal slats in the doors if you hear the sirens.)
I am so happy to be here. So much for Karen Blixen. Happily I have stopped looking for love, so have not got my eye peeled for Robert Redford, but Clooney IS in town for the Festival, though my friends the Meads are deeply disappointed at the Cipriani, where he is staying, that they haven’t seen him. Maybe it’s better.