School’s out for summer.
When I was 16, Alice Cooper blared out over the stereo.
School’s out forever.
Well… not forever. But for the summer. My parents flew up from Lagos, Nigeria to pick me up at boarding school in Switzerland. We met up with my cousins and aunt and uncle and hopped a train to Genoa, Italy. From there we made our way past Monte Carlo to San Rafael. I bought my first bikini and found my patch of sand on the French Riviera. How could life be any better than that?
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay there forever. We spent time in Paris, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysee, the Palace of Versailles. It was hot. It was crowded. It made me crabby. Touring Europe with family. How droll. I was way beyond that. I was 16, after all.
From Paris we split off and my cousins went to London and my parents and I went to Madrid. I ran into some old friends at the Museo Del Prado. I saw Las Meninas by Velazquez, one of the most famous paintings in the West. I remember there was a mirror placed opposite so you could view the painting in its reflection. The king and queen are painted in a mirror on the wall of the room. It is a mirror within a mirror. Anyway, it is a complex painting and I don’t remember all the details but I do remember what struck me the most about it was how apparent the inbreeding was.
We ate tapas, we watched Flamenco, we dined out. We boarded a train to Portugal and traveled across the plains where the bulls were bred. After a couple of days by the pool in Lisbon we headed to the beach at a resort north of town. It was not the French Riviera as I recall, it was below par and possibly raining. Also the end of the tour.
PanAm non stop to New York City. From there my mind goes blank.