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question 10: how is venice, venice?

notes on a city that swims

You’re seated on the left side of the train. Facing forward. You always face forward, you get motion sickness otherwise. Outside your window, a golden sun is falling into the sea. You hover above water for a second or two or a minute or twenty–you don’t know how much, but some time passes. And then your train begins to soldier on, slowly moving toward a golden city, a city in the middle of the sea, the same sea that swallows a sun. The train stops. A canal greets you hello. Boats, not cars. Bridges, not crosswalks. You’re on land, away from land. You inch your way through the city for some days, and water is your every moment: it’s beneath your feet, beyond your feet, alongside your feet. You splash, you frolick, you revel. Then one night, it pours. And you wake up to raindrops hitting the roof above you. You have some hours to spend before your train takes you away; maybe you’ll take one last look at the city.

You walk out. And immediately, you pause. The canals are overflowing. The rain is coming down. You’re surrounded by water above, you’re surrounded by water below; water is your every moment, but today water is Venice’s every moment too: beneath its feet, beyond its feet, alongside its feet. And like you, Venice splashes. Venice frolicks. Venice revels. It plays with water the way no other city does: a flooded San Marco, a forced detour, a gondola traffic jam– Venice’s charm.

(Venice is shaped like a fish. Of course it swims.)

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