Friday, January 10, 2014

Finding Her Way Back

As Lindsey takes a moment of pause to figure out her next steps towards the future, I will take a pause to reflect on one of our past adventures.  As the ski season goes on without Lindsey, I know it’s hard for her to imagine a life without skiing.  That’s why I want to remember a place far from any chairlifts or snow:  Venice, Italy. 
Two years ago, Lindsey had just finished one of my favorite races in Cortina, Italy with her 47th win.  About a two and a half hour car ride from Cortina, we packed our bags and said goodbye to the Dolomites.
After missing our turn off and getting lost, we drove through small streets and neighborhoods until we finally reached the bridge into Venice. It was dark by the time we got there, the reflection of the street lamps onto the water lit up the city and in the distance you could see the boats floating in the water.  We parked our car and got out with our bags having no clue where to go from there.  I looked to Lindsey who is always steering me in the right direction, but this time, she was looking to me.  I think Lindsey hadn’t felt the feeling of being lost since she first came to Europe.
We looked around and followed the flow of people all going in the direction of the water.  We asked around and decided to splurge on a private taxi since it was dark and because we had no idea where to go.  It didn’t take long to find. We went out on the dock, knocked on the door and an older Venetian man energetically took our bags, and knew exactly which hotel we were talking about and helped us into the boat.
“Lindsey, we’re not in Kansas anymore!” I said as the driver untied us and we drifted slowly into the canals of the city.  Lindsey and I sat with our heads sticking out of the window watching it all go by.  We weaved through unnamed streets in the dark water with the moon and stars above us. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.   It was a sight to see the Venetian man steer the boat with precision around the tight corners of the canal streets. 
We cleaned up and went out to dinner at a small trattoria the concierge suggested where the locals eat.  We went through streets of Gucci, Burberry, Roberto Cavalli, and Cartier mixed with gelataria’s, mask shops, shoes and purses.  Somewhere along all the shoes and gelato we got lost. We couldn’t find the restaurant to save our lives.  Venice is built around the water systems which makes the city a sort of a labyrinth. 
 Finally after giving up we walked to find any restaurant that was open and guess what we found? The trattoria.  It was right next to the Ponte di Rialto. We drank wine with risotto, gnocchi and Tiramisu. 
The next morning we woke up early, had some cappuccinos and went to explore the city.
While waiting for all the shops to open we went to St Mark’s Square.  The buildings are beautifully intricate, the architecture is baffling.  We stopped at every bridge to take pictures.  Walking along the river and seeing the city stretched out on top of it amazes you.  The streets are so narrow you have to watch out.  Once the city started waking up you felt the hustle and bustle of the vendors and from behind you “Attenzione!” and we had to quickly move to the side for men wheeling around their goods.
Seeing Lindsey have to jump out of the way for someone else was pretty funny.  It was a world where (almost) no one knew who she was.  Travelling is a scary thing at first; it’s a sort of vulnerability and aloneness that most people don’t experience unless they get out of their comfort zone. 
Right now, with the uncertainty of the Olympics, I hope Lindsey remembers Venice and to say to her that even if you don’t know where that boat in the night is taking you, and you can’t see around the corner right now, that there is something worth wile on the other side.  To remember to put one foot in front of the other and you will always find your way back, and that getting lost is always the best part of any journey. 

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