Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Florence, Paris, London, Elbow

Photo by Michael Prince

The past several months have been a bit of a blur, focused (or I guess if it's a blur it would be a sort of an unfocused-focused) on The Book. The book, the book, the book. You know, The Underside of Joy? Yes, that book. So when the opportunity to travel in Europe with my son, Michael, came up, I jumped. I mean, how many times is your 20-year-old son at least seemingly excited to travel with you? And what are the chances it will happen again?

Granted, he had been hoofing it across Europe with his friend for a month after their semester studying abroad ended, staying in youth hostels, counting every Euro. So it may not have been only my company he was thinking of. Who cares? Yes! I'd love to meet you in Florence. I'd love to get away from thinking obsessively about the book and spend some mother/son bonding time exploring incredible cities.

The ol' book can wait, right? Ella Beene and the town of Elbow will still be here, waiting when I return. But of course! Andiamo!

Although Michael had been in Florence for four months, he hadn't yet climbed to the top of the Duomo to gaze out at that gorgeous red sea of rooftops. So that is one of the first things we did.

In Paris, we made the pilgrimage to that famous bookstore on the Left Bank, Shakespeare & Company, a newer version of the one Sylvia Beach started, where Hemingway and friends hung out. My kind of store, where old shelves and every nook and cranny are crammed full of books both used and new. So many books, so little time. How does one choose? Ah, but when your mother, l'auteure, is standing over you with her camera? Not so difficult.

And what is Paris without a stop at the Eiffel Tower? It's so commanding, so captivating, especially at night with its multitude of lights -- that giant, glittering pathway to the heavens. Nearly impossible to look away.

Nearly, but not quite.

Our final stop was London. Land of Harry Potter. The first book that grabbed my little boy and would not let him go.

Move over, Harry. He's mine now.