When I was a teenager, my parents rented a house near Albi, in the south of France for an entire summer.
As soon as I got off the plane in Paris, I sensed an amazing new world of adventure opening up to me.
I grew up in Montréal, so the language didn’t feel foreign, but everything else did. People dressed, moved, and behaved so differently, and I remember feeling like I was living in a movie. A really good movie that took me outside of myself and transported me into the unknown. I could feel myself changing into someone else and I loved every second of it.
It’s funny to think of it now, but I’d never eaten mussels, nor sampled cheese that wasn’t Canadian Cheddar before, and suddenly I was thrown headlong into a world of delicious flavor, texture, and color. It was a revolution for my tender palate. I loved France, and I loved the world, and I wanted to taste everything. Instantly, the planet seemed to teem with infinite possibilities. That summer changed my life in a dramatic way, and helped set the trajectory for who I am today.
So when I learned that my niece Sophie, and my nephew Jack were taking their inaugural voyage to France and Italy this past summer, with their parents, I invited myself along for the ride. They’re great kids, so it was a fantastic pleasure and privilege to observe them while they went through their own whirlwind initiation into the exotic. They both took to it like fish to water.
We landed in Paris, took a train to Avignon, picked up a car and drove to a fabulous house, with a pool, in the Luberon.
Then we drove across the border to Bologna, then onwards to Ferrara, Siena, Orvieto, then finally Rome.
We walked for miles and miles, danced, saw great art, ate sensational food, met extraordinary people, dreamed of gladiators and great emperors, laughed, cried, and grew closer as a family. The kids opened themselves up to new experiences so naturally, and it made me smile with recognition, as I watched their passion for knowledge and experience awaken, then blossom.
We had a blast.
Looking back, after observing things come full circle, I’m left with a deep feeling of gratitude for my own mom and dad, who had the foresight to introduce me to the great wide world. Incidentally, I still love Canadian Cheddar.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius