1. Pretend you are traveling
2. Apply a traveler’s eyes to your own backyard
3. Step outside your routine and create an experience that you would associate with a vacation or another, faraway land

Let us know how it goes.

Here is my most recent experience of finding the magic in my own backyard.

Agnes about to board the go—-ndola

Our Venetian gondolier and me–this man can sing!

All aboard with champagne

My friend Agnes and I decided to embrace out-of-the-ordinary pleasure on a Wednesday night. Agnes came over to Oakland, which is in itself remarkable since everyone in Oakland usually visits San Francisco. I invited her to come on a gondola ride with me on Lake Merritt, the neighborhood where I live. I’ve known about the gondola rides for a year and drive or walk around the lake every day. I’ve been waiting for the right moment, perhaps the right man, but then, I decided the right man is my dear friend Agnes.

First, we got giddy after oysters and wine at the Lake Chalet, which is where the gondolas launch. Our tall, handsome gondolier greeted us. He was wearing a black and white striped shirt, black pants, and oh my god, he was Italian. From Venice, no less. “Welcome!” He guided us out on the deck to the gondola, which he tells us, is a “real one” made in Venice. The moon had risen, and we were over the moon. As he stood on the back of the boat rowing, we asked him about the correct pronunciation, since Agnes, Polish, and I, American, say the word differently. “Go-ndola,” he told us. “Close the ‘o’, and make it like go-ing.” The gondola rocked back and forth, I felt like a baby being rocked, soothed, with the full moon bright above us sparkling down on the water, we popped open our champagne to drink. Alessandro started to sing to us in Italian. I do believe that Agnes and I gripped each other’s hands in response.

Alessandro told us later he came to the US to do a postdoc at UC Berkeley. Not in gondola studies. In electrical engineering; he has not been able to get work in his field, so he works here. His mother is not happy with this situation. Someone please get this man a job in his field. But before you do, go ride the gondola at Lake Merritt!

And tell me, what have you done or do you want to do to experience the magic in your own backyward? How do you see your own home and everyday life with fresh eyes?