I stand at one end of the Piazza San Marco. In the shade, the air holds the crispness of late March. I know the sun will bring warmth. The intricate buildings loom, curved archways and stone facades iconic in their design. The eye is drawn towards the opposite end of the Piazza. The Byzantine domes and gilded mosaics of Saint Mark’s Basilica reflect the late morning light.
Into the sky rises the Campanile, its white loggia tying to its surroundings what its red brick bulk attempts to separate. The calmness of the morning has awakened to the beginnings of a crowd, enthused by the appearance of water from the coming Acqua Alta. Couples and families dance with pigeons, pose for photos, embrace and kiss.
I am alone.
The next track starts on my iPod: Bob Dylan, a statistically probability of the 5,800 songs held there.
I have been deceiving myself. The previous year was a blur of work, stress, and boredom. An aimless boredom caused by a lack of direction and for the first time in my life, lack of a goal. Always a driven person, I reached the pinnacle of my chosen career before I was 30. My first novel had been a success (as much as any are in these digital days). The transition to freelance writer had been surprisingly smooth, and had become comfortably lucrative. It wasn’t enough.
I was at a turning point. The previous two weeks had been spent with my father, driving around central Europe in a trip we’d discussed for the better part of a decade. It was brilliant, but my brain was still tied to home and work and all the stress therein.
Minutes earlier I had left a dear friend, who by luck and chance I’d been able to see in Venice. The first time we’d seen each other in nearly a year. She, and her travelling companions, had arranged a gondola ride. I was to meet them after. In this brief moment, I was alone with my thoughts. In hindsight, I can see all the pieces in place for what would happen next. At the time, I had no idea the epiphany that was about to strike.
As Bob started to growl his way into the first verse, a calmness came over me. My senses conspired to shock my brain into a new understanding. The view of the Piazza, the Basilica, the Campanile, the salty smells, the sounds of Venice filtering past the music, the power of the sun as I stepped out of the shade, all combined into one, simple thought: “This is the life.”
This basic, obvious, simplistic sentence reacted like a catalyst in my weary brain, rapidly leading to more thoughts:
“This is the life. I should do this more.”
“Wait, why don’t I do this more?”
My mind ticked through all the potential answers to that question, and couldn’t come up with any negative answers. I’d built a career that was flexible enough to be done anywhere. My income and expenditures were such that I could, if I was careful, do my job from elsewhere, often.
In that moment, I knew what the next stage of my life would be. I was standing in it.
I am an explorer. I have a need to see. To experience the people and places, the spaces and faces, the world. What want in life is to go where I can’t read the signs, and I’m the one with the strange accent.
I am a bald nomad, and these are my adventures.