I was not always as you see me now. Once the beloved consort of a wealthy nobleman, I was his constant companion. Draped in the finest silks and twinkling with gold, I attended every affair – a respected and admired member of society. Uniformed servants would rush to greet me when I arrived, and Persons of Quality aspired to spend time in my company. Every fine hotel and palazzo was quick to welcome me should I choose to grace them with my presence.
But times change. My nobleman died as did many of his kind. A new class of merchants rose to fill the void – and their ways were different from the grand lifestyle to which I had become accustomed. Their tastes in companions changed as well, and I found myself increasingly in the company of younger, sleeker, more modern versions of myself. I found that I had become an anachronism – a fading reflection of more elegant times.
Gone are the countless golden days of drifting lazily on the silent waterways with my nobleman at my side. More and more, I find myself in the company of travelers (the locals having long since abandoned me in favor of their younger companions) in line with the other aging courtesans in Piazza San Marco, each of us vying to spend a stolen hour with a generous stranger.
But spare me your pity – I neither need it nor want it. Let the merchants spend time with their young and foolish companions. Long after their youth has faded, I will still be beautiful, and my admirers will still come from all over the world to spend an hour in my company. I may be a vestige of days long past, but I will go through life with my head held high, and by God, I will do it with style.