Today marks two years since I married the love of my life. It just so happens that we also arrived in Venice, Italy, after an exhausting twelve-hour trip, lugging multiple suitcases, backpacks, food bags, a stroller, and the kids on trains and buses through Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Italy. The kids were amazingly good – far better than I’d anticipated – and we arrived in Venice only slightly worse for wear. It wasn’t the ideal way to spend one’s anniversary day, but the knowledge of our final destination made it worth the effort.
Perhaps my optimism about the kids’ behavior went a bit too far when we decided to have a nice sit-down dinner in the piazza outside our hotel. Usually they’re good in restaurants, but I failed to remember that they’d been on their best behavior for over twelve hours and were more like ticking bombs than docile, hungry kids. The moment we ordered, the baby started to wail. Nothing I fed him could console him. Sleep-deprivation took over. When my plate arrived, his sobs escalated to the point where I was forced to leave my much-anticipated black tagliatelle with calamari and courgettes and push him around in the stroller until someone else finished eating and could take over.
Once I returned to the table, I inhaled my tagliatelle nere, awkwardly twirling the endless strands of pasta with my left hand while holding on to Alex with my right to prevent him from taking off. He kept fighting, sliding off the chair, and I kept gripping, trying to remain calm and smiling at all the curious diners around us. When I finally let him go, supervised by my brother, he proceeded to knock his head against a metal pole and scream so loudly that it echoed off the stone walls of the piazza. Everyone stared. I paid the shockingly massive bill (something like $130 CAD for a meal that I barely tasted) and furiously dragged the kids up to the hotel room.
The anniversary celebration quickly improved. J. and I headed out to Piazza San Marco for some adult time, once the kids were settled. A fabulous group of musicians played on a lit stage, their music flooding over the nighttime square. A violinist with perfect intonation played gypsy songs that gave me goosebumps. My husband bought me three red roses. We sat listening to the music at Florian Café, a Venetian landmark first opened in – get this – 1720. We drank our espressos and chocolate tortina con panna while gaping at the immense spectacle that is Saint Mark’s and the Ducal Palace. I stood in the middle of the square and felt like a tiny speck.
I’m ecstatic to be here. I’d forgotten how incredible Venice is. The alleyways are narrow, the houses ancient and elegant, the gondolas sensual, the sound of the constantly lapping water lulling, the creeping moss and mold around the foundations relentless, the stone and marble structures smooth and worn, the little shops colourful, the seafood fresh and tasty, the little bridges simply beautiful – there’s no place on earth like this. I can’t imagine a more amazing place to celebrate two great years of marriage. If the rest of it is as wonderful as these two years have been, we’re in for a good time.