Before I came to France, I still lived with my parents and my sister Sally. I lived 10 minutes from my university so I didn't need to move, and I had all the freedom I could want. Plenty of my friends had moved out, joined the rent cycle, while others stayed at home until their 30s. There was no distinct trend for either, but as I worked towards my impending departure, I started thinking about where I'd live when I got back.
My sister and I have what I now see is an enviable relationship with our parents. But inevitably, the time would come for the little chicks to grow wings and fly away (mine were attached to the Boeing bound for Paris). Things had to change one day, and this year had certainly been one of great change. Not long after I settled in Caen, Sally called to say she'd bought a house. My little sister, 21 years old, just graduated from Uni, was working as a nurse and just marched down the the bank for a mortgage. She moved out, and all of sudden Mum and Dad were part of the happy Empty-Nester demographic, already plotting how best to spend our inheritance.
I missed them all - generally in a "I miss hanging out with you guys" way, and occassionally in a "I need my Mummy" kind of way. I missed doing the grocery shopping on Saturday morning with Mum. I missed having Dad around to fix things or drill holes or run out and get ice-cream in a dairy crisis. I didn't miss fighting with Sally about borrowing her stuff without asking, but I'm sure she appreciated the free reign on my wardrobe. I even missed my dogs, particularly my big hairy Malamute who I knew would pass away while I was gone (he did, on the day of our Prom).
But somewhere, an alluring concoction was brewing, calling out to my parents. The discovery of some long-lost Italian lineage started it, my moving to France encouraged it, and an Uncle in the UK completed the potion, for before long the tickets were booked and they were on their way! The responsibility of a mortgage kept Sally back but she sent some hugs and I sent her back 2 oversized novelty pencils for her collection.
Mum had the countdown going, Dad was keen for a break from work, and I was longing for that familiar smell of Estée Lauder and cigars. And so, on August 12, I met my parents in front of the Gare Montparnasse and, after some requisite embracing, we set out on our journey to discover Paris and the Panero Family Tree...
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