Lost and Found in Venice

The Storm Clouds Gather

The storm clouds in the evening light remind me of Hawaii.  As I look out the airport window, the hill to my left is lush and green from this Spring’s rain.  Unusual for San Francisco where the hills are usually the color of yellow straw.

Terminal 100 is quiet.  Everyone seems remarkably calm for people waiting to fly to Europe.  I am so excited I want to jump up and do the happy dance in the middle of the terminal while chanting “I am going to Venice!”

It is funny how the more I travel, the more I crave it.  Today, I re-did my list of places to visit.  I am now up to 21.  If I travel to a different destination every year, I will not finish my list until I am 65!

Claudia, my seventeen year old daughter, finally got excited today. What started as another mother-daughter trip has become darker and more urgent.  “Clinical depression.”  I look at the young, pretty counselor in her office at Kaiser.  “Are you sure?”  “Hide all your knives and your pills,” she tells me matter-of-factly as she goes through her check list on what to tell parents when their child is diagnosed with depression.  “Are you serious?  Even the vitamins?”  My father’s ghost has come back to haunt me.  It is funny.  I thought my son Max was the one who brought his spirit back into the world with the same big blue eyes.  But it is in Claudia where my father ‘s tragic sadness lurks.

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The Monkeys are Coming – Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Mangoes are falling.  Branches shake in the trees high above me, moved by invisible hands.  The monkeys are coming.  I can hear chirps that sound like high-pitch dolphin calls.  Soon a parade of monkeys jumps from tree to tree above our porch at Villa Titi.   I sit frozen, afraid to even sip my coffee.  I do not want to scare them away.  It is early in the morning on our first day in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.  I am enjoying the fresh air of the soon to be humid and hot day on the porch of our rented villa.

As if by magic, I am suddenly surrounded by monkeys.  There must be at least twenty of them in the large mango tree that grows above our villa.  These are the squirrel monkeys; tiny, delicate, light tan monkeys with soft white faces.  My eight year old son Max has come to the door. I slowly gesture him to stop.   Max stares at our tiny guests who beam at us with small intense eyes. They are so close I tingle with excitement.  I have never been this close to monkeys without a fence separating us.  A baby clings to its mother’s back staring back at us in wide-eyed wonder.

After a pause, the monkeys begin the business that brought them to our tree.  It is breakfast time.  They begin their morning routine.  They seem to have forgotten us completely.   They throw the mangoes down from the tree. They run down to the ground to retrieve their fallen treasures.  On the ground, they take a few thoughtful test bites before they carry the mango back up into the tree.  Max and I watch with silly grins on our faces.   As suddenly as they arrive, as if by mutual agreement, they all leave.  The shaking branches and fading chirps mark their retreat.

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