Venice has rivers for roads. They also have gondolas for cars, kind gondola drivers named Paolo who can throw up the frog, and alleys that are easy to get lost in.
Jake, Jacob, Audrey, Emma, Olivia, and I took a train to Venice a few days ago on our own, ready to explore the city that could be underwater soon. I knew that Venice was built on the water, but I didn’t really understand until I walked out of the train station. Boats and gondolas were casually floating down a massive canal that served as their main street. We imagined what it would be like to take a boat to work, or cross the bridge instead of crossing the street every day. We meandered through the back alleys along the side canals away from the bustle of the large crowds. It was peaceful away from the beaten path. The narrow alleys and canals of Venice are bordered by colorful buildings and we sat watching gondolas pass us by.
As we were walking aimlessly through Venice, a man working in a restaurant pointed at Olivia Chambers and said “California?” We were stunned. He was right! Then he goes, “Los Angeles?” He was right again! Who knew there were psychics in Venice? Joking, but it was funny that a waiter could spot where she was out of anywhere in the world. This got me thinking.
Soon after I barely escaped a plunge into the canal by Jake Lynn, we decided to sit on the edge of a canal and soak in the atmosphere of Venice. While I sat on the edge, my feet dangling over the ledge above the canal / street, I thought about homes and the song rivers and roads.
Rivers and Roads is a song about separation from the people that you love by rivers and roads. It’s about physical distance that creates emotional distance, and the resulting change. This song is a tear jerker for any college student who has gone to school away from home. As I watched the people float by in gondolas, and I said “Ciao” to each person in an attempt to become a local, it hit me that everyone has a home. The gondolas held people of all races, nationalities, and ages. They spoke many different languages, and still saw right through my southern accented ciao. Everyone has a place that they go back to where they are comfortable, known, and loved. For some, it is Venice. All Paolo had ever known was rivers for roads and incredible gelato. For others, it is Interlaken, only knowing the Swiss Alps and crystal clear lake as a backdrop for extreme sports. Still for others, it is Germany, where the Ausgangs are hard to find, the schnitzel is good, and the night train conductors are….well…not the nicest.
Home makes people who they are. It shapes us indefinitely, although we have no control over it. Our home will always leave a mark on us no matter where we explore to. I realized in Venice that knowing about someone’s home helps us to understand them and to love them better. It is so important to see new places, to get out of your home and what is comfortable to truly see the world. While I have often said that I wish that my home was in each city we have been to, I’m thankful for the ways my home (the great state of Arkansas) has shaped me forever. It has influenced the great cheese dip vs queso debate (to all the haters- it’s called cheese dip!!) and my family back in Arkansas are the reason I am able to learn abundantly through these amazing experiences.
While homes give us underlying differences, we are united through a universal language. We are able to communicate through major language barriers in smiles, hugs, and handshakes. We transcend differences with the universal language of love. Loving people doesn’t change between cultures and homes and is not limited by borders. I have learned that loving people, no matter where their home is, is the most important.
So whether I walk out of my home to rivers, or I am separated from my home by roads, may I never forget its importance in spreading love.