Returning to Florence, Italy, meant seeing Michelangelo's David again.
I remembered the impact he had on me at 25 and wondered how he would affect me this time, some 40 years later.
I had kept him close to my heart since our first encounter.
I've always had a special place for David in my fantasy world of men I adore and admire, a celebrity crush on a man of stone, whose magnificence seems so alive and present as if he could turn at any moment to his throng of admirers like a rock star facing his fans.
Would David still inspire me with his beauty and grace after all these years? Would the proud, yet gentle young man, toned and muscular, fit for Goliath, still stir me with his restrained power and reflective, protective gaze?
Though many years have passed, I still am captivated and charmed by his elegance and beauty. He remains a prince preserved in marble as if the Gods had frozen him for us to behold, a monument to eternal youth and strength that exudes courage and confidence.
I no longer have a schoolgirl crush. Instead my wiser eyes perceive "a peaceful warrior," with immortalized energy, ready to do whatever is required of him.
In my mid 20's, it was love at first sight; in my mid 60's, I am totally smitten by his gentle, powerful figure and adore him all the more.
Next time I see him, I will place a "love is eternal padlock" (L'amore è eterno dei lucchetti) on a Ponte Vecchio bridge rail to symbolize my commitment to an Italian Idol who will never change, who is perfect just the way he is.
Erana Leiken, principal of Tiger Marketing, is a marketing and PR consultant and freelance writer. She also teaches communication courses at the University of Phoenix and Web marketing and interactive content for the Art Institute of Phoenix.
Formerly an NBC reporter, magazine editor, and Web business writer, she is writing creative nonfiction and doing Web consulting. See www.tigermarketing.com.