Since my parents no longer have a car, going to the family house in Saint Michel, a quiet beach town on the Atlantic Coast, is more difficult than before. It used to be a 45-minute drive—it’s now a two-hour-long ride on the Lilas Bus that links Nantes to many small towns on the coast.
The bus was at 10:30 a.m. At 9:40, Feng, Mark and I were ready to go. We had packed the night before, Mark was fed and dressed up and the stroller was already downstairs.
Meanwhile, my sister was barely out of the bed and was toasting a tartine while my mother was in the shower.
“Allez, allez!” I begged. “We’re going to miss the bus!”
My sister shrugged and spooned more apricot jam on her bread, my dad rolled a cigarette and my mother didn’t hear me because, well, she was in the shower.
This is when I remembered why I never travel with my family, and why I always insisted on making my own arrangements to the airport for each of my trips.
“Maman, on va louper le bus!”I said again.
“What time is it?”
“9:45!” I replied impatiently.
“Oh, that’s fine. We’ll get the 10 a.m. tramway to the bus station.”
“Then we need to go NOW!”
We eventually made it downstairs, Feng and I walking fast with our backpacks and pushing the stroller.
“Did you enter some stroller-pushing Olympics?” my sister sniggered.
“Yes, of course. Oh wait—no, I’m just trying to catch the fucking bus, you know, the one we can’t miss because, well, it’s only once a day!”
I lost my mom and my sister again at the tramway station—they went to buy tickets. Then we discovered that because of construction work, the efficient tramway system was being replaced by a shuttle bus.
We were still stuck in the bus.
Thanks God we were in France. Of course, the bus was late. “I told you so,” my sister said.
The bus dropped us off at St. Michel’s post office. We walked to the house, opened the blinds, turned the water and power on and discovered there was nothing to eat.
“It’s alright. I’ll go to the supermarket,” I volunteer.
That’s when I noticed the small piece of paper left on the kitchen’s counter by my brother, who often comes on weekends with his girlfriend. The supermarket’s opening hours. Of course, it was closed between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
I sighed. It was 1 p.m. and we were hungry.
“I will… bike to the next town to see if something is open?”
There are two bikes at the family house. One is my old bike, bought in 1991 and very rusty, the second one is the kind of bike a French guy probably tried to escape the German invasion in WWII with. None of them had brakes and we couldn’t find the pump in my grandfather’s messy basement.
Yet we biked. Walking would have been faster. We eventually found a bakery, about to close for the “mandatory” three-hour noon break, and we bought a few sandwiches.
The ham-cheese-butter baguettes tasted like caviar, trust me.