The Seychell’s in Italy

by tkos on August 15, 2012

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It’s been just over three years since I have seen my parents. Doesn’t really sound like a statistic of a close family but I don’t think that geography necessarily dictates relationship. Of the last 15 years, I have lived in my parents home town, Melbourne, for four of them. Saying that, I have always considered it to be my home also, because that is where my parents are.

In those four years, my Dad and I would use every opportunity to catch up while watching North Melbourne do their best not to lose in AFL football. My Mum and I would explore the funky cafes of Melbourne’s city centre at least once a week and every second week, I’d have them over to my flat to guinea pig some new culinary creation that I wanted to try out. But when I live overseas, neither of us are very good at staying in touch. Sometimes we go weeks, if not months without an email, text or phone call. We are both registered with Skype but never seem to be sitting at computer at the right times. We are not good at it, but somehow, we are still really close.

Mum and Dad had rented a two bedroom villa or apartment in Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento for two weeks, one week and one week respectively. They didn’t know if we would be joining them for all three Italian destinations or just one. The choice and flexibility was ours. Needless to say, we were more than happy to lap it up.

The Google map App on my iPhone had gotten us all the way through the last 2,500km to Tuscany but to find the address within the town walls of Lucca was another matter entirely. We found our way what we thought were the main gates. The cobbled streets led to a wooden bridge over what seemed would have been a moat many moons ago. Market stalls lined the square with tiny streets inviting us into the maze that is Lucca. People were everywhere. Colours of the houses glowed yellow, orange, blue and red in the afternoon sun. If Lucca is considered a tourist destination, it looks like a tourist destination for Italians. Perfect. We had arrived. The butterflies in my stomach were telling me it was time and reuniting with my parents was imminent.

‘Brett!’ A man in a cap, sunglasses and lilly white legs stood behind me. ‘Dad!!’ I was walking my bike and bags over the cobbles. Kimmi was somewhere up ahead. The chances of us meeting in the square before texting our arrival was pretty slim and surprised the life out of both of us! We approached for embrace and while i held onto the bike with one hand, I noticed he extended his arm for a masculine but awkwardly timed and inappropriate hand shake with his. I pushed his arm away and gave the man a great big hug.

Mum, Dad, Kimmi and I spent the next couple of weeks exploring Lucca. We cooked dinners, drank wine and talked. We ate more, drank more and talked more. It was the first time my parents had met Kimmi and for her, it was a great insight into my life. We cycled down to Rome and met them there. We ate, drank and talked some more before we cycled down to Sorrento for more eating, drinking and talking. We talked life, politics, history, money, charity and then more politics and history. There is nothing my Dad doesn’t know about anything and for the first time in my life, this fact was blatantly obvious to me. We soaked up my parents hospitality and cherished every moment. Although a TV occupied a corner in all three apartments, it was not once turned on.

My parents love the idea of what we are doing. Cycling around the world and exploring charities along the way. Discovering life by living it. Learning from doing. Understanding the world by speaking to people in it. But if they could have me home tomorrow they would. My Mum deliberately doesn’t read the world section of the paper and at times, I’m sure she doesn’t want to know where we are. She can’t help but worry, after all, she is my Mum and I am her 36 year old baby.

To get to the East coast of Bari from the West coast of Sorrento is about 500km, so we allow ourselves seven days to do it. This means we have to leave and the time to say goodbye is inevitable. We have cycled across France and Italy to share this time, but we all know that the real danger lies across the Middle East and Asia. Even if it is just for the chance of getting knocked off the bike from the horrendous traffic and road conditions. It will be over a year before we get to see each other again, after that, the risk will be reduced. But there is a long way to go before we can share that comfort.

In the early hours of dawn, we stand outside the Sorrento apartment. Bags and bikes are packed and there is nothing else to procrastinate our time. Kimmi moves in with a hug for my mum and then my dad. My mum looks deep into my eyes. Her face is read and her eyes are full of tears. She holds onto me with a huge hug and squeezes tightly. It was then the she just burst into tears as the struggle to say goodbye just overwhelms her. ‘YOU BE CAREFUL!’ she demands, as if she is saying goodbye to the 21 year old me that left for the first time those 15 years ago. My mum doesn’t cry often, but the times I have seen it, it doesn’t shake me too much.

It’s now time to say goodbye to my Dad. He never cries. The lump in my throat is swelling from the embrace with my mum. I just want to get this over and done with. Quick. I look for the masculine yet awkwardly time and inappropriate handshake from my Dad only to see a gesture of open embrace. My Dad gives me a giant bear hug and just holds me. ‘You take care’ he says softly as his voice breaks and the tear he had been so ferociously holding back, breaks free.

We may not talk frequently as we could, but sometimes it is our emotions that speak the loudest.

My wonderful, fantastic and amazing mum and dad. Love you guys.

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