Travels with Mom

For Mother’s Day this year, the Boston Globe asked a handful of their travel writers to reminisce about traveling with their moms for a story that will appear in Sunday’s paper. This is the first memory that popped into my head. Happy Mother’s Day!

Growing up, I was often embarrassed by the decibel level of my mother’s voice. Her thick Bronx accent and layered laugh would echo off the walls of the high school auditorium much to the chagrin of my suave adolescent persona. No doubt flirting with some girl, I would hear her scream across the room, “Steeeeepheennn, come meet Mr. So-and-So. He likes to write too!”

Needless to say, I wasn’t relishing the thought of spending an extended period of time with my mother in Paris in1985. She was on her first trip abroad with my dad while I was backpacking through Europe with my college sweetheart, now my wife of 18 years. We met at a restaurant where my mom already had her Berlitz book open. She was practicing her French on the waiter who was laughing his head off, having never heard that unique blend of the Grand Concourse meets the Champs-Elysées speak. My mom ordered lamb and the waiter came back with three slices of bologna, having misunderstood her.

It should come as no surprise that the people who coined the phrase joie de vivre adored her exuberant personality and treated my mom like the next coming of Josephine Baker. At a jazz joint, noticing the Swing dancing skills that once garnered my mom awards in her youth, a Frenchman asked her for an opportunity. My father urged her on and my mom and that guy cut a rug into tatters they were moving so fast. All I saw was a blur of white teeth plastered on my mom’s face, framed by ruby red lipstick.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I miss that laugh!