Sunday, 6 April 2008
I'm just back from a trip to Venice. I took my five year old son with me and we travelled to Paris by train and then took a night train to Venice. This was something I really needed to do. It is part of attempt to rediscover the person I used to be. Travel was an important part of that person. When I was young I travelled all through Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America. I also took the train all the way from Brussels to Beijing. I was always setting off somewhere - usually with no money and no map and not much idea of where I was going. For the past five years I haven't done that. But now that my son is five I can start to travel again. Also - and it's really, really hard for me to say this - the fact that my daughter died makes it possible for me to travel. Travel is one of her gifts to me. And my son and I had a fantastic time. There's so much I could write .... But the best bit was the hotel. We stayed on the Lido because I thought my son would like the space and the beach. The hotel was called The Hotel des Bains and it was so Jazz Age, so Scott Fitzgerald, so Noel Coward. A great wedding cake of faded splendour right on the beach. Also my son and I were literally the only people there because the hotel is closed in winter and only re-opened for the summer the day we arrived. And so there we were, the two of us, in this ridiculously grand and other worldly hotel. The lack of people didn't bother me in the least. There's nothing I like better than a seaside hotel out of season. My son swam in the sea in his vest and pants (I forgot his swimming stuff). We peddled all around the lido on a four wheeled bicycle. We visited St. Mark's Basilica and had tea in Florian's in the plaza. We gasped at the grandeur of Venice and ate stupid amounts of ice cream. This morning, after taking the night train back, we had delicious coffee and croissants at the Gare du Nord in Paris. My son was wearing his pyjamas because I some how lost interest in putting his clothes on. And I knew that I had rediscovered the person that I used to be - and the person that I will be in future. Because this is how my son and I are going to live now. We will become nomads and drift from place to place. We will take our sadness with us but we'll live in defiance of that sadness as well. Suddenly life seems possible again. At least for today.