For our niece Mackenzie’s 16th birthday I suggest a trip, telling her we can go wherever she wants. She chooses Italy and I approve wholeheartedly. We go to Rome, Florence and Levanto, just north of the Cinq Terra. She is so quiet and polite at first. Over time, she opens up and we have a lot of laughs and good talks.
Mack is a remarkable travel companion. The second day she gets into a subway car, the door closes while I am stuck on the platform. Trying not to panic I hold up two fingers, get on the next train, ride two stops and get off. She is there, waiting for me on the platform. We had been talking about the route at lunch and she had paid attention. She knew what two fingers meant.
The trains go on strike the day we are to go to Levanto. We need an extra night in Florence. We get an amazing room! The trains, when they do start running, are chaotic. Easy to miss one. Or get on the wrong one. Or wait at the wrong platform. We do all of these. And more. By the time we drag ourselves into Levanto and to our hotel we are exhausted. But Mack never complains. We laugh about it all at dinner.
I leave her alone to shop at the outdoor market in Florence because she says she will be fine and can meet me at a certain time at the main cathedral. She says she knows how to get there. And she does. In fact, she has time to go to the hotel before meeting me, finds her way there and then to the cathedral. Impressive.
We agree to do another trip when she graduates high school. That will turn out to be the epic 2012 holiday.
Years later, I will be going through my iPhoto cache from the year we go to Italy and will come across her photos, She had been uploading them to my laptop as we went along. What an eye she had! Although only 16, her photographs show a maturity of perspective unexpected in someone so young. Some of her photos are displayed here.