Moving along on my December 2009 serial vagabonding throughout Europe, my next stop, after Paris and my uber short Belgian --via Brussels-- stint, was the French Riviera. Please don't hate me!
On the morning of December 14th, I took the early bird flight from the "Aeroport de Paris Orly" to Nice to accomplish one grand master mission: to go surprise mommy dearest in Menton, France and break -- at last --the "10 year out-of-sight" bitter spell that had persistently been cast over our rather unconventional relationship (And don't ask me why we stayed apart for so long, you already know the whole story).
To be honest, the surprise visit was motivated by a cocktail of mixed up emotions, namely anger, sadness, and -- of course -- happiness and love. But this is not a poor-me tirade, so I will jump right into the heart of the matter.
To pull such an elaborate plot, I recruited the help of three accomplices -- my brothers. The plan was fairly simple and demanded minimum brainstorming and physical effort on their part. Yet even with little to no work involved in the operation, they managed to fuck up - apparently the words "work" and "men" put in the same sentence doesn't match at all! And the irony of it all was that they were each at remote locations - two in Australia and one in France (albeit in school) - and had delegated their tasks to friends acting as "middle men."
Needless to say, nothing went according to plan. It started in Paris somewhere around six in the morning when I checked in my luggage at the Air France counter. I'll skip the entire episode of me getting off the shuttle at the wrong terminal and having to drag my massive wheel-impaired suitcase over nearly two miles. Upon retrieving my boarding pass, I was quickly informed that my suitcase was 10kg overweight and that as a result I would be charged a penalty fee of approximately $50. Not that I am cheap and couldn't afford to pay the fine, but frankly airline companies these days take far too many liberties.
Of course I proceeded to publicly unload half of my suitcase on the conveyor belt - including the panoply of lingerie items purchased in the city of sexy, namely Paris - before transferring 10kg worth of crap into my miniscule handbag.
Cut to my fabulous arrival in Nice where, unbeknownst to me, another fiasco awaited my bootie. This was the part where Brother # 2 (the 22 year old currently studying in Brisbane Australia and not due back home until a few days after me) was supposed to send his local friend to pick me up and drive me to my mom's apartment for the grand surprise reunion.
You'll notice I wrote, "supposed" because evidently there was no friend holding a billboard with my name written on it. So much for my cheerleading parade!
In lieu of a VIP ride I had to settle for this public transportation called the bus.
The embarrassing sequence came when the bus driver asked me where I was going. Other than the name of the town - Menton - I was absolutely unable to provide him with an address.
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"Where in Menton?" he inquired.
"I don't know, I'm visiting my mom," I naively replied, admittedly sounding like a royal idiot.
Fast forward to the part where brother # 3 was taking over Brother # 2 in the execution of this --so far fantastically unsuccessful--master plan. Just so you know, Brother # 3 is the 17 year-old one who lives in Menton with mommy dearest - yes he would be the one knowing the exact address! And in case you're wondering about Brother # 1, he' the 39 year old who resides and woks in Sydney, Australia and was assigned no tasks in the operation other than staying far away from it.
I originally had agreed to meet Brother # 3 at some local café at noon (apparently they only have one caffeine hang in that village), so when I got off the bus I immediately asked for the location. Once again I was dragging my defective suitcase behind me as I went hunting for the java joint. Upon passing a school in front of which hundreds of students where gathered, my eyes instinctively locked in on one tall young man who looked strangely familiar. As I moved closer to him I suddenly realized it was my brother - keep in mind last time I saw him he was just 9!
The real question cavorting in my head was: why wasn't he at the café yet considering it was already past noon? I know my priorities aren't always straight, but I can't help it if I easily get upset about the little details in life!
Jump cut to the awaited moment: THE REUNION. When my brother let me inside the apartment my mom was locked up in my brother's bedroom doing what she's religiously been doing since Rome was built: CLEANING.
"Come out for a second, I have a gift for you," my brother informed her.
After arguing with him for a few seconds, because evidently, keeping the apartment spic-n-span takes precedence over the rest of the planet, she finally resigned herself to come out.
That's when she was at last standing right in front of me...