After graduating from high school, I hopped on a plane with my dad, my always-adventurous grandmother, and my older brother for a month-long sojourn through France. We started in Paris, where my father had an experiment running with colleagues there. My eighteenth birthday befell while we were in Paris, so we went to a swanky dinner at Au Petit Marguery, where I enjoyed my first kir royale. My dad wanted to check on his data after dinner, so I spent the wee hours of my birthday evening collating data onto graph paper while he tinkered.
It was a marvellous trip. We motored somewhat aimlessly throughout the countryside, got derailed by the Tour de France, and ended up discovering marvellous, Michelin-starred country restaurants that we'd never have come across under ordinary circumstances. We made it as far north as the Belgian border, and I spent a pleasant break from motoring riding a quarter horse in Belgium. Porquoi pas?
My grandmother was a terrific shopper, and her prize purchase on this trip was a large, gorgeous stained glass hanging in the shape of an exotic bird, with an oval mirror in the center. She was terrified that it would break in transit, and had the shop wrap it with utmost care. The mirror spent the entire flight home clutched tightly but gently on my grandmother's lap, swaddled in yards of bubble wrap.
The mirror arrived unscathed, and occupied pride of place in my grandmother's living room for over 20 years. When she died last September and attention turned to dispersing her vast collection of trinkets, objets, and miscellany amongst my mother and aunts, the stained glass mirror was the once piece I felt strongly about. It now hangs in our foyer, where it catches the morning light through the large dining room window.
On Tuesday evening, Michael, the kids, my parents, and I are flying to Paris for eight days, and my younger brother and his girlfriend are meeting us there. Au Petit Marguery is still open, and we will certainly take time out from museum-crawling and patisserie-scrounging to enjoy a meal and a kir royale there. It would please my grandmother to no end to know that her modest inheritance is financing this trip for us -- I only wish she could be there to see her great-grandsons' eyes light up when they see the Eiffel Tower at night, or bite into a fresh pain au chocolat for the first time. How she would have loved it.
As if there were not already sufficient emotional undertones to this trip, my father received his biopsy results yesterday. All negative. Clean bill of health. We take off next week unfettered and free as birds.