Venice, Italy – Annie

Summertime, and Europe is invaded by tourists, from all over the world. A large proportion of these tourists – and a very noticeable category – consists of American backpackers. On a pilgrimage to discover the old world they distribute themselves unevenly across the continent. They travel with different motives, in different constellations, and with different itineraries. But they have certain things in common; Americans appear to have a born connection with country fellows. They all communicate with the next American like they’re family, although they may have met only a few minutes ago.

This is what strikes me this wonderful summer day in beautiful Venice. I’m resting my tired feet and am trying to orient myself on the map, sitting on the stairs to a large building. A few meters away sits a young and very cute girl by herself. Okay, not entirely by herself – she is surrounded by pigeons. Very many pigeons. They don’t seem to bother her, and she doesn’t bother them. She’s in a state of total harmony with the birds as they flock around her. Sure, Venetian pigeons are probably known to flock around tourists in droves, but even so it’s remarkable how she seems to be in her own world, ruling the pigeons. This extremely stupid species of bird even sit on her, like she was a divinity for this sorry excuse of flying creatures.

A guy – obviously a stranger – walks up to her. Under the pretence of being lost he strikes up a conversation with her. They converse like they just picked up a conversation from back home, even though they’ve never met before. She introduces herself as Annie. Politely Annie engages in the casual conversation, but not once does she take her eye off the birds. They hover around her like they have no intention of ever letting her leave the city. In that moment she probably didn’t want to. It’s rare to be able to tell when a complete stranger is happy only by looking at them, but Annie is happy. She’s in harmony, maybe even personifies the definition of the word. In the unlikely event I ever have a bird, I will name it Annie.