Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One day in March, 2005

The end of The Long Dark Winter, a few days into Spring…Beginnings…

Not warm, per se, not sunny, but warm enough to wear open-toed high heeled sandals without the danger of feet turning blue and cracking and falling off. Plus a red Chinese silk brocade blouse. No white wedding here this morning…

I arose when it was still dark. Drank some green tea, did a half an hour of yoga. We had to be there quite early, there was no other time slot available.

A rush of makeup and hair tied up with a lacquer pin, and him running around stuffing last minute items in the suitcase. What would the weather in Venice be like at this time of year? One collapsible black trenchcoat, for us to share..

His friend from school days calls fifteen minutes before we depart the apartment. "Tu peux me prêter une cravate? J'ai pas de cravate moi". He puts down the phone in exasperation, couldn't he have thought of that a little EARLIER, and continues stuffing the suitcase like a Thanksgiving bird.

I can still hear that David Bowie song that kept running through my head, for one reason or another:
Never gonna fall for
Modern Love
Walks beside me
Walks on by
Gets me to the Church on time
Church on time

I'd imagined walking but in the end time did not permit. Plus we are dragging a big suitcase, and there is some teetering on the aforementioned heels. We call a taxi.

"Ça me fait plaisir de vous amener à la Mairie pour le mariage.."

A small group outside. As had happened on several occasions before, when we dropped off the marriage dossier, and came back to grin at the posted bans, a sigh of frustration, that we didn't live just two streets east, in the 18th, where the Mairie is nineteenth century, and instead we are forced to be join lives in the circa 1970 concrete utilitarian block that is the Mairie du 17eme. Yes, sigh…

Some photos, taken by a sign: Paris 2012: L'amour des Jeux. A couple of cigarettes even though I don't usually smoke in the morning. A shuffle into what reminds me of my elementary school's assembly hall. A lady wearing a tricolore sash, smiling.

A ceremony in French, a Cartier ring, chosen at Galeries Lafayettes weeks before, had been sitting in its wrapped package on the dresser since.

Not "I do", which as a teenage girl I had always thought it would be, but "Oui".

A kiss.

"Les américains qui se marient à Paris" says the lady in the tricolore as she sees our birthplaces on the livret de famille. I can practically hear his teeth biting his tongue. Je suis pas américain. Je suis canadien. Je suis français. Je suis californien.

It is done. A walk to Place Clichy for a taxi to the airport. My feet hurt. Some waves from the taxi. I look at the ring, on a finger that has always been devoid of jewelry.

Up in the air and back down again. A long boat ride from Marco Polo airport, making one stop at the island of Murano before finally dropping us in front of the fog-shrouded Campanile. I have since changed shoes, back into the beloved chucks. A map purchased on the Piazza San Marco, followed by crossing canals for an hour, squeezing into crowded medieval passageways, over small arched footbridges, past scores of display windows draped with Venetian masks, stopping to lecher les vitrines in front of the gelato shops, backtracking, searching for our yellow hotel. And then…

And then…a pasta meal, some attempts at uttered Italian, a bottle of bubbly Prosecco Spumante purchased at a little wine shop, two plastic glasses offered to us by the shopkeeper, for our gondola ride. Our gondolier doesn't sing. Sipping said Prosecco through the dark, candlelit, silent back canals of Venice, no sound, except the gentle rippling of water lapping at the gondola. We feel inclined to whisper.

And then…

And then it is late, and we merely sit on the banks of the Canal Grande, legs hanging off the side, and look at the lights of Venice under the moon. Finish off the Prosecco, swigging from the bottle since we left the glasses on the gondola. We just sit, watch, and pass the bottle back and forth.

A year of someone who really does understand…

This post is for him….


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