I’m angry with her for falling, for rushing, for not watching her step, for being Donna. She was on her way to the swimming hole, and came back to get sunscreen. She missed the step from the porch to the walkway. I didn’t see it happen. I just heard her cry out.
I was planning on staying home and writing a post about going back to Venice. Instead, we took a trip to the emergency room.
Our first trip abroad together, in 1983, was to Italy. We flew into Rome and took the train to Venice. When we arrived in Venice there was a crowd outside the train station, and the Vaporetto weren’t running.
We arrived on the first Sunday in September. In the middle of the Regata Storico. There was nothing to do except look at the boats and wait for the Grand Canal to reopen so we could get to our pensionne. I ate my first gelato.
I learned a lot about Donna on that trip. I learned that she loves the unplanned and unexpected, that she likes to change the itinerary, and that she likes to travel without reservations. We were going to stay in Venice for five nights but had such a good time that we ended up staying for ten nights, and skipped Emilia-Romagna (Bologna and Ravenna) before decamping for Tuscany.
Donna doesn’t like guidebooks. She hates lists of “10 things You Must Do In …”, even though she’d want to do five or six of them anyway. She thinks of herself as a traveler not a sightseer. She is fond of Romanesque churches and Roman mosaics. She finds them in out-of-the-way places. We go out of our way to visit them. After Venice, we were going to drive through Umbria and Le Marche.
If you are in a long-term relationship you probably have a set of meaningful one word phrases you both use. For us, they are Grazalema and Bologna.
Grazalema is a village in Cadiz, Spain. It is a “white town” surrounded by the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. It doesn’t have a famous church or museum. We stopped for lunch, en route from Arcos de la Frontera to Zahara. We ordered a delicious roast loin of pork, drank a glass of red wine, and sat in the main plaza watching town life. Donna thought Grazalema would make a great base for a couple of days. We could go to Zahara on a day trip. I offered only pro forma resistance. We stayed. Grazalema is our shorthand for discovering a wonderful place by accident. Serendipity.
Bologna is my term for giving up unknown future pleasures because Donna changed the itinerary. I wanted to go there because of the food. I will never get there because something better will always crop up and get in the way. I will never be able to make a convincing argument to go there. Bologna is what falls off the list.
Even though it is my idea, I’m not convinced that going to Venice is a good idea. Nothing is ever as good the second time around. There is no guarantee that I will fall for its charms. I might be bothered by the crowds of tourists. I might be disappointed. It won’t be exactly how I remember it.
Donna insisted that we buy travel insurance. I bought it literally two hours before she fell. If all goes well, we will be reimbursed for our expenses and be able to reschedule the trip in the spring. Meanwhile, we can dream, eat gelato, and read about the back roads of Umbria and Le Marche.
Notes: Welcome to Rehab is a riff on Welcome to Holland, written by Emily Perl Kingsley, about parenting a child with Down’s Syndrome. I first came across it while reading Andrew Solomon’s excellent book Far From The Tree (about parenting all sorts of kids including gay and trans kids). Some people love the piece, some people hate it. Some people accept they will never get to Italy, and some people create Italy wherever they are.
Donna broke her ankle on Saturday, had surgery on Sunday, and is in residential rehab. She is not in a lot of pain, but she can’t put any weight on the bad ankle. She should come home in a week or two, equipped with a knee scooter.