“Aunt Lily!” I ran downstairs to see her, my favorite Aunt. Her skin was sun-kissed and filled with wrinkles. Her hair still blown back as if she had stepped off the runway. She was no supermodel she was simply my Aunt. “Oof!” Aunt Lily felt me and my brother impacting against her body as she had barely stepped into our parent’s home. “Are those all your bags?” My father, incredulously pointed at the one rolling bag that was next to her. “No, no, Keith, I got this” she patted the big handbag that was at her side. He rolled his eyes as Aunt Lily corralled us to the couches so she could sit down in the velvet seats. “So where did you go to this time?” I asked her my younger brother moved in closer to her “Yeah, yeah, what did you bring me?” Aunt Lily laughed and reached into her bag to pull out another bag. “Well this time I went to Europe” she pulled out of her bag a large map and showed us on the map the area that was Europe “But, as you can see there is a lot to Europe so this time I went here.” she pointed to a small place on the map labeled Austria, “Here” she pointed to a foot shaped country called Italy “And here” and she finally pointed at a odd looking country called Greece. “I started in Austria to visit some friends,” she pulled out her camera and showed us the pictures of some of the landmarks and her friends. “Then I went to Italy to visit family” My brother was practically treating Aunt Lily like a jungle gym hanging on her arms. “You mean you have family there?” Aunt Lily laughed, she sounded like a bird cooing when it laughed “Not just me, you too!” he poked him in the stomach on the word ‘you’ we both stared wide eyed as she showed us photos of the family. “I was able to draw a few of the landscape..” she pulled out from her large bag a watercolored picture of large trees and the golden fields. “Aunt Lily, how do you draw so well?” I asked while I marveled through the pages “Practice, practice, practice” she winked and continued to show us pictures this time from Greece. “Dinner time!” My mother called from the kitchen, we were reluctant to leave but Aunt Lily dragged us up to the table. “When I was in Rome,” she turned to my Mother “I had the best Pizzelle you could ever ask for, I mean it!” I sat there listening to her recount the places she had eaten, barely touching my own food. “You have to eat…” Aunt Lily said to me as I was staring into space, I nodded and quickly ate up. After dinner it was time to go back and here the story about the acropolis and look at pictures of the white houses and the blue waters. “But, Aunt Lily, what did you get me?” Aunt Lily smiled at my impatient brother and gave him a book about Gladiators. “Wow!” he ran to show our father “Isn’t this amazing?” he nodded and paged through the book with him. “And for you..” she pulled out of her bag two little puppets that were decorated with fine cloth and little pieces of gold “This is traditional clothing for the Greeks” she said as she pulled two more out. Two women two men, two red and two purple. “Obviously they don’t wear it very often except on special occasions, I thought with your interest in clothing you would like them” I did. It wasn’t nearly as interesting as the Sari she had brought back from India or the jewelry she gave me from Egypt. But I loved them, how intricate and exact they were. Even the little patterns on the dresses. “It’s late time for bed” my father growled and My brother and I went to bed.
“You can’t keep gallivanting about the world like this Lily” I could hear my father from the stairs their shadows on the wall as the adults were in the kitchen sipping wine. “Well why not?” she asked, “I’m not going to be young forever, I don’t have kids to worry about and I’m learning things!” I could see the shadow shake his head “Yes, but what about our kids? They’re going to think it’s okay to not take responsibility and just…” I heard a wine glass slam down on the table “I did take responsibility for what happened and no matter what you say. I did what was right” I could hear footsteps as she went back to the guest room. I hid back in the shadows. Aunt Lily visited less frequently after that and traveled abroad less after that. When I was younger I always wanted to travel the world, but once Aunt Lily stopped traveling so much so did my dream stop being a reality. It wasn’t until I got the call while in the office that she had died I decided to leave the states.
“So,” I leaned over to the man sitting across the table as the Aegean Sea sprawled beneath us, hitting the rocky shores “That’s why I’m here, alone with two glasses of wine” I looked out to the sea and saw the fishermen coming in “Because, if I had not let my parents scare me back then, we would be together, traveling the world” He smiled as I continued to look out at the sun setting, and he took the check back that I hadn’t even paid yet.