I Wish I Were

Venice - S. Giorgio

St Giorgio Maggiore

My first boyfriend sent me a postcard once, from the depth of his compulsory military service, that simply read “Wish you were here”. I was not that familiar with the English language and its subjunctives yet and that phrase resonated mostly to Pink Floyd’s music. But it compelled me to research its meaning and, since then, there have been many incarnations of “I wish I were” – in Venice, in Cape Town, in the arms of another man, in a more challenging job, in a better mood.

For many years, I was a compulsive seeker: of thrills, experiences, changes, new cities. I clocked miles, continents, jobs and men, always wishing for something or someone a little bit different, some greener pasture that I imagined lived just around the corner. It was indeed exciting, at times satisfying, but it always came with a tinge of letdown attached.

Now, when I wake up in the morning, the first sight my blurry eyes set on is a large photograph of slightly stormy waters, lapping the edges of the Church of San Giorgio, in the Venice lagoon. Many a dawn did I wish I were back there instead of being greeted by the relentless Californian sun. I would daydream, shrouded in the crumpled sheets, how my life would unfold if I had a job that required a boat to get to or how I would stop to pick up the ingredients for dinner at one of the many markets – our version of trendy Farmers’ Markets but their staple shopping experience. I would wake up to the sound of water sloshing under my windows instead of the chirping of birds and, in winter, I would brave the cold and fog, to meet some friends for dinner, just like that, on the spur of the moment, instead of opening my calendar and pencil something in five days from today.

If I were somewhere different, somewhere so magical, my existence would be perfect; every object and every emotion properly placed in their cubby-hole, an endless series of romantic days and dreamy nights.

I am not sure when the transition happened. It crept on me unnoticed, the way unpleasant habits sometimes do. The transition from wishing to having. A life in Venice. Sure, I could have that, like I had all the others. And it would be just as messy and unpredictable and at times hard and annoying. And also humid and full of tourists.

The truth is I wish I were…..right here. I took my own sweet time to learn to enjoy the clouds rolling in to create the perfect atmosphere for a Halloween night, the quiet sound of my dogs napping at my feet, the unconditional and imperfect love of the people who matter, my uncertain future and my perfect present.

Maybe there will be a life in Venice or in Timbuktu or wherever else my path will take me. In the comfort of my skin, it seems irrelevant right now. The dogs have raised their heads in food expectation. The half-drained cup of tea has gotten cold. The most melancholy hour of the day has set in, the one that always made me wish for something, someone, somewhere different. Now it only reminds me it’s time to switch the lights on.

69 thoughts on “I Wish I Were

  1. Great post and you can see from all the other responses that I am not alone in appreciating it. This post is the girl I encouraged to write for a living. This is the one that is a “keeper.” More like this one. It sounds like a narrator in a good movie. Like a William Hurt or a Kevin Costner (sorry, I don’t know of any women actors who narrate good movies!) Maybe you should write a movie! Heck, you’re already in California!

      • Ahhh. I knew you were FP but I didn’t realize it was for that post. In fact, now that I think of it, I thought it was for the post about your mom. Still, you are way too modest. It’s nice to know the FP people recognize good stuff when they see it! I’ll have to make an effort to read more FP blogs. It’s such a pleasure to read quality writing; it just makes it so much easier to read! Consider me an admirer of your work.

  2. Funny you mention that. The seed of this post was planted when a friend asked me “If you had all the money in the world, where you would choose to live?” and my lack of an immediate answer made me realize I had found a state of contentment

  3. How very true. You are where you are. We had a friend’s family over once, and the young son looked out from our deck at the canyon and said, “Wow, you live where people vacation!” And of course, although we love where we live, it took a visitor’s eye to put it in perspective.

  4. Great post and very well writen. I find myself in the same position often luckly I do have the pleasure of traveling quite frequently. I do miss Venice and each time I leave there I look forward to the next chance that I get to travel there.

  5. Just started blogging and am discovering a whole new world of lovely online journalism. Found your blog through Freshly Pressed and love this post. I wonder if appreciating ‘Home’ and ‘Now’ is part of growing up (I’m 34 so it’s about time :-)); it’s taken moving 4000 miles away from home for me to work out what really matters. Thanks for this thought-provoking, personal piece.

  6. What a beautiful post. You’ve expressed it all beautifully – that sense of always wanting something new, something more, something greener on the other side. I went through the same period of always seeking, always being on the move and longing to be somewhere else, become someone else. But like you, I’m more comfortable in my own skin now and while I still dream of living, and living hard and fast, the way I used to – now there isn’t anywhere I wish I were. I’ll be following your blog – congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. xx

  7. What a lovely post and a well deserved FP. I often catch myself daydreaming of someplace I would rather be, or the life I would like to have or just fantasizing about being on Dancing with the Stars. It’s a daily effort to stay present and right now, something I’ll never be good at, but at least it gets me out of my head.


  8. Very beautifully written. I daydream a lot, thinking what if…I live somewhere else, just like you. But I could never put it in words like you did here. I felt I lived in it as I read your post. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I love your descriptions and prose-like writing style. The realization that comfort comes from within even if it means being without is so very, well, comforting!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  10. I would love to live somewhere else, maybe not Venice, i always day dream of living in Africa, Peru, Thailand etc, the main problem where I live is theres very little to do. I’m glad your happy where you are though and i bet you will have the most amazing holidays!!!

    • And where is it that you live? I think it’s wonderful you are dreaming to escape a reality that might not suit you. I got it all out of my system before being able to settle down. And, even if settled, there is always room to explore and challenge our curiosity. I hope you do.

      • Thank you :) I live in Ellesmere Port in England, not a city but not really a town ever, most people haven’t heard of it but its in between chester and Liverpool. Hopefully it will be better when I can drive because at least I can travel around then. I’m glad you can still fulfil your need to travel and explore whilst being settled. There is hope for me yet :)

  11. Beautifully written! I also think the hardest part is being in the “now”. It’s very easy to dream of what if and imagine the greener grass on the other side, but all the time we spend doing that, we miss what we are expericing at this very moment. This is something I need to work on too!….Congrats on being FP! :)

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