As I am three weeks into studying abroad in Florence, my dad coincidentally was coming to Europe for business so decided to pop into Firenze for a few days so we could spend some quality time together.
I don't think you ever realize how much you missed someone until you are actually with them. My dad and I have dinner together every Sunday when I am home, we catch up, eat good food and laugh — a lot. Anyone who knows my dad knows he is goofy, out there and probably the most caring person they know; he would drop anything for anyone (except someone trying to sell him something on the street). When the two of us are together it is nothing but silliness as if we are children.
He has to take a picture of everything. I used to find it annoying but I see it differently now. He will have all of these memories in photos, while still being able to enjoy the moment. It just is hard because I constantly have to look my best because I know whatever pictures he takes will end up on Facebook and I don't want my family & friends seeing me look ugly since I am a model usually.
As the people in our life that we love begin to age, it can be scary. Every time I see my dad he has more greys in his almost bald head, but what doesn't change is his energy level and personality.
We were climbing down Piazza Michelangelo, a sight with a gorgeous view of the city and it hit me how thankful I was for my legs and how much we took simple things like legs for granted—I was able to walk 50 miles in a week, climb whatever hill I came across (with heavy breathing) but I am always capable.
My dad, who has multiple sclerosis, under control, thankfully, added that if he were to have multiple sclerosis, like most people who have it, he wouldn't have been able to climb this hill. It was a moment of gratitude for both of us; how thankful I am to have him to be able to do these simple tasks with me that will soon just be memories and photographs.
Probably the most classic Mark moment occurred during this trip. We planned to go to Rome on Saturday. We woke up early for the train ride to take us to Rome at 11:30. I slept for most of it, dad played poker—he just really belongs in Vegas. We get there and my dad is CONVINCED this exact train will take us to the Colosseum.
In fact, he asked the non-English speaking man next to us 'Colosseum?' and he nodded. That is the kind of reassurance everyone needs! If this train were to go Colosseum it would be like the Morristown-Essex line going directly in front of the Rockefeller tree. This convenient sort of train ride does not exist in New York and it most definitely does not exist in Italy!
We continue on the train but oh wait! It is going back the way we came. Naples! One hour to Naples we went, to transfer and then get on another train back to Rome- the stop that we were at 2 hours earlier. Annoying at the time for like 5 minutes, we both got over it, it was pretty funny.
After a lovely day in Rome, we were trying to find the Vatican (why wouldn't two Jews want to see the Vatican at 7 pm)? We were wandering for a while and walking a TON when we stumbled upon St. Peter's Basilica. We stared for a while because it was all that could be done—then my brain thought we should check return trains because we were only a little far from home. The next train was in 22 minutes and after that, 3 hours.
I wish CBS was recording my dad and me at that moment because it would have been unreal footage of the Amazing Race. I have never run that fast (and I did cross country) and we both were sprinting through the train station to be late. At first I freaked out because I was frustrated but in reality, it wasn't the end of the world. I had nothing to do the next day besides exploring Florence with him, and getting back at 2 am was not that awful. We ate meatballs and cooked peppers from a train station for dinner that night — gourmet AND nutritious, but most memorable.
My dad is always able to make the most of a bad situation, and I will always appreciate that about him — even if he is the one that got me into that shitty situation. He always classically says "I have ideas."
Me: Dad where are we going?
Him: I have ideas
You can understand why traveling with him can be stressful.
"You have to go with the flow; even if the flow is shit flowing downstream, you still have to go with it" — My dad while we were eating meatballs and cooked peppers in a train station dining hall.
Appreciate the time you have with the people who love you, thanks for a great few days dad.