Venice. It’s early on a gray December morning. I’m standing alone on a long pier that stretches out into the lagoon. It’s pouring rain and under my umbrella, I’ve rolled my suitcase as close to me as possible on the narrow floating walkway.
Yesterday I booked the St. Marco waterbus to the airport with a departure early enough to catch my morning flight back to New York with time to spare. It’s now 7:30 a.m. What I didn’t know is that Venice is a town where unless you are in produce or fish, you’re not out before 9. The ticket booths are shuttered, no other travelers are in sight and the only signs I can read point me… here. I’m standing in the middle of the whitecapped sea, in the rain, rocking on the end of a long, lonely pier, not really certain if my precarious spot is the right precarious spot to get to the airport.
Why did I take this trip alone? Why didn’t I spend for the private water taxi? Why did I wear these shoes?
A boat approaches the next pier. Hey! Should I be there instead of here? I start to roll back down my pier and the jaded boat pilot waves me back to stay put on my little perch.
Then out of the mist and rain, chugs a cheery little water bus with the right logo and a young man in raincoat ready to pull my bag aboard, steady me as I hop on and stumble into the steamy interior.
There’s the moment. I’m a traveller, a trail blazer, a citizen of the world. I’m a woman who can take public transportation with luggage.
I’ve set out on my own to a beautiful city. I’ve faced fears, remembered something about who I am, made plenty of mistakes, depended occasionally on the kindness of strangers, taken risks and done just fine.
That awareness of my own competence sends me home just a little different. That is why I travel alone.