The airport houses two of the most emotional locations, the Arrivals gate and the Departures gate. Standing at the Arrivals gate with a sign waiting for your loved one to walk towards you is so overwhelming that you can practically feel your ribs aching as your heart attempts to beat out of your chest. Sadly, the Departures gate is where you have to watch that same loved one then walk away, and feel their sinking absence as you pray for their safe landing in a place that is not with you.
Andrew is a character that leaves me at a loss for words, yet at the same time I could write and talk for hours about him without running out of content. Traveling hand and hand with him for the first time together taught me even more things to love about him. His way of traveling is so much different than my own, and I like to think that this is why we work so well. For Andrew, he is there to experience life at its purest form. He wants to sit and watch, content with a glass of Lagavulin in a piazza under the afternoon sun, simply enjoying the atmosphere of wherever he is.
I say it often, Andrew is an old soul. He isn’t on social media or constantly looking for wifi, hell he probably won’t even read this post! When I asked him where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do, his answer was simply “I want to be with you enjoying our time together, the where part doesn’t matter.” He wasn’t interested in seeing the tourist sights or museums, just simply to stroll the streets and take it all in. I did finally get an answer out of him about what cities he would enjoy, and as you can see in the title, they were Venice and Catania.
If I am completely honest with you, this was my third trip to the island of Venice and also my favorite. The weather was perfect, warm in the sun while cool in the shade, and early enough in the season that the tour groups were still minimal. We stayed in a rented apartment on the end of the island, far from the noise and tourists of the city center. Andrew found the whole city whimsical and amusing. One of the things that made him laugh the most was when the street simply dropped off into a canal without warning.
We visited the main destinations, San Marco Square and the Rialto bridge, but also took time to visit the islands of Murano and Burano. To Andrew, window shopping around the canals was a day long activity. Sometimes I asked him if he wanted to go in and look closer, and his response was always “Darling there’s no price tags showing, and if you have to ask the price then you can’t afford it”, which he was typically correct about.
Ah, Catania. The home of Andrews ancestors. Some of his extended relatives might argue that this is not the true origin of their lineage, but their name speaks for itself (Catanese translates directly to ‘from Catania’). We learned quickly that we had planned too much time in this city that didn’t exactly offer much in the way of activities. Strolling the streets was not as cheerful of an experience as Venice, because Catania is a larger city that functions as more of a residence than a tourist destination.
Catania is a black city. Literally. It sits on the eastern coast of Sicily upon volcanic rock that’s been spewed from Mount Etna which looms above. Everything in the city is made from volcanic rock; the streets, buildings, monuments, and beaches. Even at this moment, Etna smokes and rumbles quietly.
We finished our trip together back in Florence. Having him in my European hometown was so wondrous. Thanks to my own adventures, I was able to tell him so many more facts about the city than he ever probably wanted to know, but even still it was nice to have someone listening.
I won’t lie, the bus ride to come back from the airport was the loneliest I’ve felt in a long time. Nevertheless, Andrew charms me endlessly and having him here during my Italian semester was a dream.