Sunday, November 27, 2011

Death (of Objects) in Venice

One week ago today, I awoke to a foggy day in Venice, awash in the fairy tale feeling of being in that exquisite, impossible city.

The Venetian adventure was Part II of my weeklong trip to Italy, which began in Rome with HOBB and moved to Venice, where we were joined by Big Babe who flew in to meet us from his home in Berlin. Though this was not my first time in either city, it was the only time I had journeyed directly from Rome to Venice and the transition was stark and bracing. Rome is rooted by the presence of the Papacy and the ruins and the famous film sites and the grand fountains and the piazzas and the ubiquity of people of the cloth scurrying through the streets -- priests, monks, nuns, seminarians; the occasional rabbi or imam.

Venice, on the other hand, is a dreamscape, no less historic, in fact, shockingly ancient and unmodernized but hardly rooted, in fact sinking, drifting downward and upward at the same time.

There is much to unpack about my trip to both places, an orgy of walking and wine and delectable food and sites and sights to incite the imagination; the countless conversations with my husband and eldest son, our fond friction, the fractious way we connect after long absence.

But on this Sunday morning in Manhattan, I wish to ponder the melancholy meditation I had while in Venice about recently lost garments, a new habit of mine which began last winter in Berlin.

Walking through the winding alleyways and streets, crossing the squares and bridges, I found myself taking stock of clothes I had abandoned in public places: the black Adidas jacket I left in a club in Berlin, the off-white Gap jacket I left in a bar in Nyack, the vintage plaid cap I left at a wedding on Long Island, the black H&M sweater and street vendor white straw fedora I left in a retreat center in Connecticut, the Topshop black sweater hoodie I left in a New York synagogue...and grieving for them, now likely the property of strangers.

An one who is emotionally bonded to her clothes, this new habit of mine is intriguing in its novelty and also its out-of-character-ness.

A wearer of scent (Burberry Weekend has been my trademark for almost two decades, sometimes accompanied by Origin's Ginger, patchouli oil and now, a new Burberry -- Body) I imagined the rogue wearers of my lost garments stealing my smell, an unpardonable crime, a most intimate form of identity theft. 

Crossing the Rialto, the Ghetto, the Grand Canal, the Bridge of Whispers and St. Marks Square with my husband and oldest son, lost for hours, I pondered the sudden divestment of my vestments and whether their disappearance made me lighter, enabling me to travel, to fly, perhaps even teleport beyond the bounds of space and time.

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