The morning flight from Mykonos to Milan is short, less than 2 hours. After we land, Julie and I eat airport salads draped with anchovy while waiting for my husband and kids to arrive from San Francisco. If those salads are any indication, we have a good week in store.
The drive from Milan to Tuscany is long. Traffic, a confused GPS, and twirly whirly roads make this a 4+ hour journey, but I can't complain. The countryside splays out beautifully, we're fueled by gas station Pringles, and 80s tunes spill from Virgin Radio Italia.
By the time we roll up to the rental house, dusk has crept in. My younger brother and his fiancée arrived earlier and picked up coppa, salame, pepperoni, cheese, fruit, olives, and bread from the local grocery store for dinner. Simple food, no cooking required. Perfect after a long day's travel.
This particular group of 13 -- my dad, my stepmother Barbara, my 3 siblings, our partners, several kids -- has never vacationed together before. It's a grand experiment, months in the planning, and, in some odd way, decades in the making. In fact, I haven't traveled with my father since the summer of '79, when he took my older brother and me on a weeklong vacation to Sussex County, New Jersey.
On one of our first mornings, we all wake up at different times. My husband and son go for a run. Barbara and Julie sip coffee. I read a book about the early days of MTV, eating muesli I've stirred into Italian yogurt.
I ask my dad if he wants some eggs.
Yes, he says.
I locate a small, scratched up skillet. Drop in some butter, drizzle in olive oil. Find a green plastic bowl and whisk up the eggs with a few splashes of milk, a shake of salt, a grind of pepper.
I light the stove. The fat sizzles.
I pour in the eggs. This stove is big and powerful, so it just takes a minute for the eggs to start to set. I lift up one edge and let the rest flow underneath. Another minute passes, and I look towards the doorway to check for witnesses. Then I flick my wrist, hard, unsure what will happen. The omelet somersaults, flips over, and lands back in the skillet, perhaps for my first time ever. I'm sad no one sees.
I sprinkle on some cheese, do a quick fold, and slide the omelet onto a plate.
I present it to my father.
And then I know. This moment -- not the gelato, the vistas, the chianti, the cathedrals, not the fields of Tuscan sunflowers, the world-famous art -- this is why I'm here.
This is what I'd hoped for.
I hope my father tastes it.