I'd like to start off this message by thanking you for choosing me all those years ago when I was coming to Italy to study on my year abroad. I actually chose Rome, but then you chose me. And when I insisted on being in Rome by applying as an English teacher with the British Council, you stood right by me and said, "Hey Abi, I'm still here." So when the British Council gave me Milan as my location, I thought, you know what Venice? You've already stuck by me. I'll go with you.
And I went to you. And I found friends the first night I went. I phoned a number on a room rental website. The guy on the phone said, "When you coming, girl? You can stay here until you find a place."
With two suitcases and a couple of bags, I got on a vaporetto boat from the airport. I phoned the stranger up and on the phone he said "look to your right." On my right was a topless man in a motorboat, waving and smiling as he called "get off at the next stop!"
And when I got off at the next stop I said to him, "that's incredible! You have your own boat?"
"We have a boat." He smiled a warm smile. "Wanna drive her?"
So I drove her through your lagoon and into your small canals as tourists looked on and stared. That is when I met you.
I was the queen of you, Venice. You looked on and smiled at me. You said, there are many more adventures to come, my dear. And there were.
You gave me a man who took me to Indonesia and the Caribbean when you provided long winters, Venice. And you said "Damn, girl, come back soon! Send me a postcard!" I didn't leave you too long did I? I rushed back to have fritelle, those delicious fried donuts you generously hand out in February.
I met the greatest people ever known to walk this earth. People who greet you with arms wide open when they don't even know who you are. People who ask you questions and not only genuinely care but are fascinated. People who shower you with love, kindness and generosity.
But now, I've had to say goodbye to you for a little while. I thought I'd stay with you for a little longer and that is why I did not write sooner. But I could not conquer you in the way I would like to one day. But as the city that conquered my heart, I would like to thank you.