Tell me a story
Sing me a song
Of life’s wars lost
And sundry battles won
Tolstoy once wrote “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Traveling groups fall in similar categories. They are similar, yet different in their own ways.
Duomo di Milano, Milan
A precocious pre-teen is skipping up the steps, adult-chic glasses in hand. The father follows the mother. Disaffected teen brings up the rear, clicking away on a phone. She looks like she doesn’t want to be here. I wonder: What happens to children in their teens?
As we climb up to the roof, I see a young girl, presumably with her mother. Late teen, at most early twenties. I think it’s a mother-daughter bonding trip. AG thinks maybe the girl is here studying abroad, and her mother is here to visit her. I like this story better. They seem to be enjoying themselves. The bond they share is visible. I see them repeating this: trips together, new experiences, shared mother-daughter moments.
Passenger Train – Milan to Tirano
A father and young pre-teen boy. The father looks like a young Walter Matthau. His beard already has a salt-and-pepper streak. Again, the father-son bond is apparent. The son holds on to his father’s hands occasionally. They share laughs, secret confidences I half-wish I could eavesdrop on.
It’s a passenger train so I’m guessing this is a day trip. I wonder where the mother is. Is it that the parents are separated, and the child is spending the day with a father sorely missed, a son served up as collateral damage for an unfortunate turn of events?
Maybe it’s just that the mother’s working and father-son managed to take off for a day to bond. I like this story better.
Every story is different in its own way.
This came together in a 15-minute writing burst on the Milan-Tirano train. Thanks to AG “Gullito” for one of the story ideas, for reading an initial draft and his stamp of approval.