Her needs and desires were as fierce as mine. By afternoon we had explored each other from hairline to instep. Softened after passion, her face was even more childlike. Her fingers worked and nuzzled at my arm as she lay back in near sleep.
As I lay beside her, she became a stranger. In a manner I could scarcely understand, our lovemaking had built a wall between us. Something had gone subtly awry in the fall of her hair and the set of her half glazed eyes.
I left her on the bed, showered and changed into fresh clothes. When I returned, she had pulled the sheet up to cover herself. She smiled and patted the bed beside her. I shook my head and said, “I am going out.”
“Let Raven wait.”
“No. I’ll see you this evening.”
“Where will you go.”
“First the youth hostel, then I’ll take a vaporetto out to the Lido to check out the campgrounds.”
“She’ll never be there.”
I shrugged. “You’re probably right. Still, it’s a way to proceed.”
“I’ll check the hotels here close to the train station.”
I paused with my hand on the doorknob. She said, “What’s wrong?” I just shook my head and went on out.
* * *
Across the Grand Canal, you enter shadows where narrow passageways between the houses and shops cut out all but the high noon sun. It is a maze of interconnecting streets, interlaced with canals. An easy place to get lost, and a place that makes getting lost a pleasure. I moved in mazed confusion myself, in bittersweet afterglow.
If you follow the signs, you will eventually reach Plaza San Marcos. You will know you are getting close when every shop sells food or expensive trinkets. Then, just when you think all of Venice has turned to Rodeo Drive, you debouch into the vastness of San Marcos square. The Cathedral of St. Mark rises in enameled splendor, all domes and gold and mosaics. Neither eastern nor western, neither Roman nor Orthodox, but with a double helping of pretentiousness from each. I forgive its ugliness only because it is in Venice.
I wormed my way through the crowds, past the Doge’s Palace, and took a vaporetto across the lagoon to the Lido. Campgrounds and pensiones line the water for several miles; it took the rest of the day to canvass them, without success.
I reboarded the vaporetto and found a place at the rail. Locals commuting to Venice sat near the center of the open deck, reading their papers like the commuters on any bus or train anywhere in the world. The rest of us lined the rail for the unparalleled view of Venice that would soon be unfolding.
Five minutes later, something like one of Christ’s miracles repeated itself. It was a walking on the water. A whole village of locals appeared mirage-like, standing on the waters of the lagoon, miles from any shore or island. Only the boats that had brought them out, and were now aground, dispelled the fantasy. Here the waters of the lagoon were only inches deep at low tide, and locals had come to gather mussels. more tomorrow