The plane shook violently with the power of bursting through an austere gigantic cloud. The fancy business-class cup fell off the table and right into her lap, spilling cold refreshing water over her jeans.
The entire scene was one that she has always dreaded especially with her Pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying) and Acrophobia (fear of heights). Yet this time, she was not panicking, she was not afraid, she was .. smiling!
She used the spilt water as an excuse to unfasten her always buckled seat belt, so she could look out the window. If she tells her mom or any of her friends that she actually did this, they will never believe her! She?! Looking from a window of a shaky bumpy plane while its landing! Impossible!
But she did. And she was very poetic and philosophical about it too. For the first time in her life, she didn’t fear the cloud or what it could do to the plane. Surprisingly, the cloud personified in her vivid imagination as a loving white angel, embracing the plane and shaking it with its force of love. For this was not just another cloud.. this one was filled with the dew of lovely gorgeous Italy.
She stretched her head for an aerial view of the country she never ceased dreaming of. The clouds so kindly parted for her, giving her a glimpse of what she has expected. The green landscape and the countryside houses with their sloping ceilings and smoky chimneys spread as far as the eyesight.
The pilot, as if knowing what’s in her head, teased her even more by tilting the plane and bringing her closer to this ethereal view, which she is now seeing for the very first time in her life.
Her smile grew wider.
Few days ago, she would’ve never believed she was finally going to make it to Italy, after all these years of trying and failing. As her husband and colleagues talked about her business trip, she felt like they were talking about someone else. She was so scared to believe it. She didn’t want to believe it. What if something happens and she doesn’t go. She will be brokenhearted. Yes. Brokenhearted. Italy is her biggest love, and she has always been scared to approach it until the perfect moment; the moment when all the pictures and visions she has collected in her mind would finally merge together in the perfect collage, in the perfect situation, at the perfect time.
There were times, before she got married, when she thought this will never happen. But after she did, Italy was put on the shelf as impossible, not just the traveling, but the whole set-up of the voyage as she had it in mind too.
She loves her family. Still for Italy, she has envisioned being there -at least for the first
time- on her own. She had secrets with Italy that she didn’t want anyone else to know. She had lots of poems that she wanted to recite to the holy ancient streets of Rome, or whisper to the sleepy waves of the sea on the shores of Trieste, and dig them deep in the Grand Canal of Venice, where they could remain in the heart of the city forever and her heart can rest assured its enchantment has been acknowledged. She craved to be a part of the history of this country that has withstood the test of time with grandeur and grace.
How can someone fall in love so drastically with a country that they’ve never been to before?! How can you be in love with a country that isn’t yours?!
So, when the business trip topic came into discussion earlier in the year to be followed by
a family trip, she wasn’t ecstatic, but she was happy that at least she gets to visit Italy. Nevertheless, when last-minute issues happened, standing against her family traveling and she was granted four extra days alone, she couldn’t believe herself. She so wanted this in the first place, but couldn’t live with the sense of guilt of not taking them along when she had a chance.
How everything sorted itself with a much bigger power than hers just bedazzled and
overwhelmed her. It felt like Italy was keen on her alone. It was keen to listen to her worshipping murmurs. It was God showing her yet again, how amazing he is with his glorified wisdom.
There was one more thing keeping her anxious. What if she goes and then Italy lets her down! Until now, it felt like it is something that she lives for. A personal goal she has set for herself. Something she looks up to. What if Italy doesn’t turn out the way she visualized it? She will feel so lost. The thought disconcerted her and for a second was about to steal away the joy of actually being so close, but the view in between the clouds has reassured her that her dream was just the beginning of a completely mind-blowing experience.
While roaming Rome’s airport waiting for her internal flight to Trieste, people stared at her. She couldn’t remove that wide smile from her face, which made her look so silly. The happiness inside her had to find a way to express itself. Rome had to know how grateful she was. Italians had to know how delighted she was now that she is finally among them.
How she loves the way they look, the way they talk, the way they eat, the way the stand out from the rest of the world. How she really wants to be one of them and how she longs for the day when she could come and live among them forever.
She vowed her promise to Rome “I will be back in four days, wait for me, while I pay tribute to Trieste and Venice. Soon I will come to let go of everything on the banks of your river.”
Trieste was so unexpectedly beautiful. A small cozy city by the sea that has it all;
Mountains, sea, greenery, country and city life, all in one. Like any city on the borders, Trieste is a point where everyone seems to gather regardless of origins in perfect harmony and tolerance. Its history is mostly influenced by the Austrian cultural, yet the Italian root is everywhere too. The result is mesmerizing; a blend of the finest of European cultures, the rough and the tender, the strict and the mellow, as well as the baroque and the realist.
Triestians are very friendly, and they have a very strong connection with the sea. The day she arrived she went to have a stroll, and she was engulfed in tenderness seeing all those lovers withdrawing warmth from each other shamelessly; families walking together, very serene as if the waves with some soothing power have sucked them in into its placid moods.
From a distance, the mountain rises up cutting with a fake air of supremacy through the water. Isn’t it ironic, how we believe the rocks are stronger than the waves, when with every clash or hug, the water is killing them softly?!
Believe it or not, there is a part of the mountain that people called Beirut! And it did look like the mountains of Beirut, all green, full of houses, full of love and a breathtaking view for a lifetime.
From Trieste, she ran away for a one day escapade to Venice; the charming flowing city over endless waters. Venice never goes dry. It’s always giving to culture, to humanity, to history and to all that’s passed and all that ever will be. She could never think of any other place in the world where one could walk through an unfolding melt of past and present. There will never be a city as seductively feminine as Venezia. No wonder ancient Venetians artists couldn’t stop picturing it as the irresistible experienced woman who all men competed to own! Yet Venice remained free as the unicorn, mysterious with its lazy seductive streets, uncontrollable and impossible to possess.
Venice’s beauty makes women feel lovelier and sharpens their femininity, and it makes men feel more manly, it opens their eyes to another form of splendor. It transforms them into different creatures where no competition exists, only laid-back enjoyment and relaxation.
Venice is the only city where time fails over and over. The older it gets, the more beautiful it becomes. She never wanted to part with Venice. She waded through the small streets, crossed the small pontes (bridges), lingered over the flowers growing up elegantly and confidently on almost all window aisles, marveled at the amateur paintings on the walls, touched everything she could touch, not sure if she was begging Venice to remember her or if she was trying with her hands to engrave the memory of this very short encounter in her mind.
As she boarded the train back to Trieste, she realized that we will never know the secret of Venice’s charm. But the one thing she was sure of, this tempting city brings out the best in us. It unveils the artist inside, it invokes the simplicity of living that we have forgotten; that’s why Venetians are different, and that’s why we will always be different when we are in Venice.
From Trieste, it was time to head to Rome! And when in Rome, life changes! So did hers. But that’s a whole different story that she will tell you in time.