Bella Bennett writes from Venice

Year one comes to an end.

Photo by Brian Temple

After 18 is an ongoing series written by four graduates from the class of 2013. This week’s dispatch is the third from Bella Bennett, who attends Skidmore College. Bella studied in London during her first semester. She just finished her Freshman year at Skidmore’s main campus, in Saratoga Springs, NY. This was written on June 10.

I don’t think that I think like the majority of other people do. Planned things seem to sneak up on me. I am a day-to-day thinker. In fact, I am more of a thing-to-thing thinker. My journal is full of daily to do lists, and because I seem only to have the capacity to think about the events of the current day — and usually one at a time — none of these to-do lists are ever checked off. This was an okay strategy to get me through this past week of finals, but after my environmental studies final, I walked out of the classroom and back to my dorm (which I actually had the forethought to pack up at midnight the night before as a study break) and realized that I could actually leave at that very moment. It is really weird to walk into a room that you have lived in for an entire semester (for most everyone else it has been a year now, but again, I’m the one who spent freshman year in London) and see white walls where posters and tapestries used to hang. It’s eerie.

So as I was lugging the last of my belongings out to my car, I realized that I could make the last boat. Until that moment, I really hadn’t had a spare moment to consider coming home, and I became really excited. I had planned on staying at a friends’ house in Western Mass to break up the drive, but I finished my last final early, and contrary to common thought that the boat is an inconvenience, the thought of racing down to Woods Hole and catching the last ferry seemed a glorious adventure.

So after I threw a few final things into the back of my car, I left campus. That is a weird feeling on its own. I’ll likely never set foot in that room again, never live with my roommate again, never shower in that grey cage again. Bummer. Regardless, it’s a pretty jarring thought. So, being of the completely technology reliant generation, I typed “Martha’s Vineyard” into my GPS. “Martha’s Vineyard Ferry,” popped up, and I clicked on it and hit the road. Three hours into singing  along with the radio and glaring at rude drivers (most of whom also looked like college students) I got off at my designated exit.

But…this was not 495, this was exit 10A…to Rhode Island. My preset radio stations from home, which had only just started playing, began to fizzle into white noise, and subconsciously I began to wonder exactly which route I was taking. After about forty-five minutes of Rhode Island traffic and other fun things, I started to really doubt my choice of destination. When the GPS reported that I was ten minutes away from what was supposed to be Woods Hole, and I recognized nothing, I finally realized my mistake. I’d chosen the New Bedford fast ferry as my destination.

Awesome. Luckily, I still made the last boat!

After that roundabout journey, being home was incredible. But again, kind of jarring. It’s weird to finally learn how to live (and drive!) off Island, where there are two lanes on the majority of roads, and come back to meandering dirt roads. However, I only had two days to enjoy the beauty of the buds that were just beginning to burst into that soft green spring foliage that I so love. Saratoga had yet to even bud when I left, and the day I got home, I knew I’d miss my favorite seasonal activity; biking down from Chilmark through West Tisbury the day after all the leaves have come out. I love the first day, because each leaf is still so tender and soft, like a luna moth’s wing. However, I am not missing this glorious reality for anything short of amazing either.

I am currently back abroad. It’s been such a wild semester. When this series began, I wrote my first article from the sloping hills outside of Caccamo, Sicily. Now, I write to you from a hotel room in Venice; where water laps against the side of the building just two stories below, and the constant sound of boat traffic lulls me to sleep about six hours before I even consider turning in. The water is nothing like the clear, salty sea that sorrounds our beloved island, but the city is incredible.

I have only been here for two days, and already I feel both acquainted and attached to this city. I have also noticed something quite intriguing. As I am sure that you know, there are no cars in Venice. Not one. And, while pudgy Italians are quite rare, I have yet to see a single overweight local. I presume that these go hand in hand, thus providing me another reason (beyond my environmental enthusiasm, which I expressed in my last article) for me to ride my bike everywhere this summer. I know that I can feel contempt for the chains of bikers that line the sides of the roads in the summer (and never fail to make me late for everything) but nevertheless, lets all make a little pledge to be slightly less irritated in the future. Biking is good for the world and as we all know, for better or for worse, the waves of tourists swell larger each year, and we must be careful not to give our athletic visitors love taps as they explore our lush and endlessly beautiful home.

However, before the season really picks up, revel in the unwinding of the buds, the opening of the flowers, and the buzzing of our fantastic Bumble Bee population for me! In the mean time, I’ll attempt to uncover the secrets of Venice and I’ll be sure to let you in on a few in my next piece! A presto mi amici!