“Is that what you call it? Guidance my ass. He even tells you what you can and can’t eat. He doesn’t let you drink alcohol and all the while, he drinks enough for the two of you.” “Stop.” I hold up my hand. “First, most people have been telling me what I can and can’t eat all my life. At least since I started entering all those beauty pageants. Second, he’s just looking out for me. And—” I’ve run out of things to say. Besides, I’ve just seen us turn into the Grand Canal, and I can see the hotel come into view. I hold my breath. It’s even more magnificent in real life than on the Internet. The pictures can’t do it justice. I must sketch it. I vow I’ll do it before Ryan gets here. Surely there’s going to be a place in this city where I can purchase some sketching pencils and a drawing pad. “Look.” I grab Allison by the elbow. “We’re nearly here.” “Promise me you’ll think about it.” Instead of an answer, I wrap my arms around her and hug her tightly. “Let’s not talk about it Ally. Let’s just have fun. Please?” I give her my best puppy dog eyes and feel my heart lighten when she smiles. The gondola glides slowly toward our destination. With each passing moment, we draw nearer to the magnificent old building; I feel my heart beat a little faster. I’m almost tempted to tell Allison to pinch me, to make sure this isn’t some dream I’m having; to make sure I’m really in Venice about to embark at one of the most exclusive hotels. Our gondola has slowed right down. It allows me to ponder the wonder of the city a little longer before I’m going to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence of the hotel. It occurs to me the city is like an M.C. Escher moving set of staircases. Elaborate and interesting on the eye. Tiny canals and alleyways crisscross through this magnificent medieval city. One minute you’re staring at lonely cobblestones, and then, a busy market scene assaults your senses. And all of this can be seen from the waterways. Briefly, I imagine how great it would be to live here and go to work by water taxi every single day. Would the novelty wear off?
I shake my head, answering my own question. It couldn’t. Something as unique as this could never be boring. I see our gondolier steer past a boat atop which is a small round table with a couple sitting around it. Between them is a bottle of wine, and they’re about to toast each other. Would Ryan take me on a little luncheon in a boat after we’re married? I recall he said he only had a few days to spare so not to plan too much after the wedding. With a sigh, I try and push Allison’s words from earlier out of my mind. She was simply wrong. Ryan was nice.