13 March 2008


“I hope.”
(Closing line of The Shawshank Redemption)

Recently my friend Craig (yes, that wonderful composer and pianist) came from New York to visit me. Craig knows me very well. He knows my reasons for being here. He knows how I struggle, and why. He knows how much I need this time to grow, to move ahead. It’s possible that I wouldn’t even be here if not for his persistence in keeping me on track to Venice.

One evening while we were enjoying an ombra at Schiavi, he asked to take my picture. He wanted to do this because he noticed something spray-painted on the bridge just over my shoulder. (You see it here.) The visual pairing of girl and graffiti seemed serendipitous to him, far from a coincidence.

But I hate being photographed, and I put up a terrible fuss, so he shut off his camera. Now I wish he hadn’t because he was so right. That brief, red scribble has since become something of a touchstone for me.

I almost always stop at Schiavi if I’m in the neighborhood. I like very well this nice, family-run enoteca, and the nice family that runs it. And now when I stop, I always notice the little one-word anthem, which is at once a noun and an imperative. It lifts my heart because here in aloof, shuttered Venice, it seems like it was somehow intended just for me.

Who, I wonder, would spray-paint that particular word? Who else (whom I may be passing on the street everyday!) knows what I know so well? – that “Hope is a great thing, maybe the best of things.”

I betcha anything that hopeful scribbler is another Shawshank fan.