Venice: The Audition

Last summer I reviewed my life when I was I told I might not make it through an emergency surgery for a massive blood clot after an adjustment from a (Canadian, not to be confused with Mexican) chiropractor, I now call Dr. Death. Confronted with the surprising news, I was relieved I had recently made out my first ever Will. I was delighted I had chosen Mexico and a life of adventure and travel, and I even smiled with satisfaction knowing I had done almost everything I had ever wanted in lieu of playing it safe. Not bad, I thought.

I then sent a quick email to my friends saying thanks for the memories and goodbye. I made them promise I could have a gelato cart at my funeral and a slide show of Betty, my foster child in Malawi. (Don’t worry, on an intellectual level I do realize she’s a baboon.) I asked them to play an eclectic mix of music from my life, starting with Abba and the Bee Gees and ending well, with Abba (thanks to their Mama Mia! revival) and Michael Feinstein. They were only to serve the best prosecco before, during, and after the event, as well as memorize a few simple steps for a “Soul Train”-style procession down the church (?) aisle. “Don’t worry I’ll leave the choreography notes with the nurses,” I told them. “Oh, and if the Harlem Gospel Singers are available, book them and start a donation fund for their transportation and lodging.”


gelato cart idea


However, I survived, even though there were many moments of extreme pain when I wished I hadn’t. Mexican hospitals rarely dispense morphine and let’s just say that what they were giving me wasn’t really working. How is this possible in a land known for its drug cartels? I thanked the surgeon who saved my life, then later begged him to kill me. “Really, it’s ok. I want this,” I assured him with authority and desperation.

Once home, I put my funeral plans in a drawer, pleased I had gotten the details out of the way and that my years of event planning had finally come in handy. I grinned knowing that when the day finally comes, I won’t be responsible for the slow service or the person that  inevitably hogs the shrimp station—it wouldn’t be my problem, my catering days would be over.

I laid in bed for two months looking at the wall, not even able to pick up a book. On the bright side I finally had the time to think about my future, with no distractions, no projects, no errands. Was it time to move forward? Really move forward, leaving the past behind with a “been there, done that” mentality?

If so, now what?

I thought of all the places I still wanted to see and the many things I wanted to do; however, one question never left my thoughts: What would it be like to live in Venice?


grand canal 2


I’ve been fascinated by the place since I was very young, reading history books about the Doges and museum-like island that houses many of the world’s greatest treasures.  I had spent a day there on a family trip during high school, and visited again on a cold, rainy afternoon with an Italian friend from college who preferred café hopping to walking into historic buildings. In graduate school I spent a night in a nunnery near San Giorgio, where we were awoken at dawn to help with laundry in exchange for cheap accommodations. And then about eight years ago I hit the jackpot. I became friends with a Venetian woman who had three cats and no one she trusted to take care of them when she traveled. Overnight I became the cooing, doting cat sitter, her feline family’s favored companion–but that’s another story. I visited Venice almost yearly, staying 3-4 weeks each time, learning to maneuver the tiny alleys and make friends with the best baristas. My devotion to the place, the famed Serenissima, became more intense.

Laying in bed, with almost ten inches of staples running down my swollen abdomen, I asked myself—Could I live in Venice? Could I make a new life there? Do I even want to?

Knowing there was only one way to answer that question I booked my ticket and headed to my favorite island for a two-month trial period. I refer to it as an audition. I’m not auditioning; rather Venice is auditioning for me.




Now let’s see what happens.

Weekly blog posts will follow with updates of Venetian life—the good, the bad, and all the entertaining, remarkable details.




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