There's nothing like the first time you see a place. When you return to somewhere you've been before, you arrive with the baggage of your previous experience, however brief. It's difficult to see a place again with fresh eyes, or to avoid treading where your footsteps have passed before. I was reminded of this last summer, when, near the end of a three week trip that started in Prague and worked its way through Budapest and Slovenia, we returned to Venice. Though it had been six years since the last, and first, visit, I found myself wandering the same alleys and crossing the same bridges as before. Not out of intention. To the contrary, the intention was to get lost, to turn this way and that, to get turned around and upside down until I had no idea where I was. But, time and again, I found myself on what looked like familiar ground. A small bridge over a narrow canal that jogged a memory; a restaurant we'd been to with our kids, a hidden plaza that had been an enchanting surprise when first we stumbled upon it. Having only a single hot August afternoon there this time surely had something to do with it, but I couldn't shake the feeling of disappointment, of missing out, of not being able to see again what was right in front of my eyes.
So why this memory, now? As I start to develop My Sight, I went back through the pictures from that day in Venice last summer. After finding and posting some pictures I liked, I went back to my pictures from that trip in 2009. And just as I did last summer, time and again I kept tripping over those same spots ... not the major sights, like the Rialto Bridge or St. Marks (though those were there from before too), but the small canals, the hidden alleys, the textured buildings and graffiti and streets I'd seen last summer. The two pictures below capture how difficult it is to see something new again. I couldn't tell you where this is, or how I happened to wander over the same bridge and be struck by the same sight six years on. I don't even think I consciously remembered it when I did. But I am somehow sure, if I ever get to Venice again, I will find myself there once more.