Ten years ago, my mother and I embarked on a trip to France to reconnect with family. The voyage marked a new mature beginning of our relationship, as I was preparing to move away for college. Despite our loving relationship, my life path has led me far from my hometown, and I began feeling the weight of my family’s absence years ago. Time seemed to move faster. Nostalgia pummeled me every time I heard the words “St. Louis,” reminding me of everything I left behind and wondering how I could make it work.
2016 marked my mother’s retirement after a 30+ year career of teaching high school French, so we planned a trip to France and Morocco, charting new stages of our lives together.
From the moment we reached the airport, everything felt right. We spent nights laughing so hard we cried, sharing a bed recording silly Snapchat videos to send to my grandmother across the ocean. We endured darker nights clutching each other’s arms as we navigated narrow pathways in the medinas of Morocco, heavy with dinners of couscous and tagine, jumping out of the way of motorcycles, carts, and cars, desperately hunting for signs that would lead us home, cursing the guidebooks that teased us getting lost is part of the fun.
Within the chaos and the calm, the never-ending ups and downs of navigating foreign places, each other’s emotions, and the occasional hangry outburst, every day I woke up thrilled to spend the day with my mother. It was a gift to just be with Linda, the woman who passed down to me her infectious joy, positivity, and adoration of culture and language.