We rode the train from Florence back to Venice in silence.
It seemed like a really great idea, I consoled myself.
Ian’s gaze was fixed somewhere out the window, out of our train car.
This two-week trip to Europe was our farewell to east coast living. It had been 11 days of pure perfection. Zurich, Rome and Venice – each place more amazing than the last.
Until we arrived in Florence. Florence underwhelmed. Ian (new husband-cum-tour guide) took it personally. After a single night I sprung it on him: let’s go back to Venice. His panicked face betrayed his response.
“Ok, sure,” he said, not wanting to disappoint me. His wife.
Marriage. I thought it meant we were free – free to show our true selves, secure in the knowledge that someone chose us, someone loved us. Our game of musical chairs was over. He thought it meant we were bound – bound to our plans, bound to our commitments, bound to the version of ourselves that stood on that altar. Our game of truth or dare was over.
It wasn’t Venice that made him nervous, it was my expectations. You see, we already had a plan. Hotel reservations, dinner recommendations, dog-eared pages of Rick Steves’ knowledge. Why was I threatening all of it now? His eyes searched the Italian landscape, desperately looking for clues to understand the woman-with-a-new-name sitting next to him.
The early days of our marriage became a two-player Jenga match, and as far as Ian was concerned, this suggestion to ditch Florence was consistent with my strategy.
In January: “Let’s get a puppy!”
I slid a piece out from the center.
In February: “You should quit your legal job and try out the business side of entertainment!”
I knocked out a bar down low.
In March: “Let’s move from New York to Los Angeles!”
I removed a corner piece.
Now, in April: “Let’s go back to Venice!”
Steadily I had been deconstructing the lives we built while dating, daring it to grow higher on its new and unstable foundation of untested vows. I hoped each bold move we made together would make us stronger, but he didn’t care much for my mercurial tactics.
The train conductor announced our imminent arrival while our virtual Jenga tower wobbled from side to side.
“La prossima tappa di Venezia” he called.
Are you happy now? I chided myself.
We will have to start all over again.