Snow fell gently to the ground, and the bustling city barely seemed to notice. The world kept on moving, regardless of the weather. People had places to go and people to see and they weren’t about to let a little snow and ice slow down their pace.
As I strolled through the crowds on my way to meet my cousin, I did my best to avoid bumping into people. At this time of year, you never knew what moods people would be in. They were either one extreme or the other with very little in between. They were either grumpy from the cold or filled with the Christmas Spirit.
Across the river, I could just make out the church towers where her wedding had been held, reminding me of just how long it’d been since she came to town. While we’d met up a few times over the years, it had been a long time since she’d last been in town. Admittedly, we were never really close back in the day. It wasn’t until most of our family was gone that we began to contact one another again. And even though our respective jobs had slowed down over the years, we still managed to keep busy, making get-togethers difficult. That made our times together even more enjoyable.
When I arrived at the museum, I found Iris observing the glass and metal structure of the Louvre Pyramid. Her favorite cherry red jacket, an old Christmas gift from her husband, stood out against the falling snow.
I approached and tapped her shoulder. “Cold today, isn’t it?”
She laughed she turned and hugged me. “Do you really want to talk to me about cold?" She released me from the embrace and looked around expectantly. "Psy couldn’t make it today?”
I shook my head with a smile as I turned toward the entrance and she followed. “No, she has a ballet class to teach. She’ll try to catch up with us later if you stick around.”
“Yes, visiting the Louvre has been on my to-do list for a long time.”
We entered the warm museum and began exploring the exhibits. There were dozens of stunning paintings and sculptures to see and it was fun to take a trip through history.
I kept my face neutral anytime we came across an image of Cupid in the hopes that Iris would let it go. She was older than me, which meant she had to be more mature, right.
It didn’t, and she wasn’t.
Every time she spotted one, she’d point and laugh before moving on to the next piece of art. I really hated the common depictions of Cupid. They were painful and embarrassing to look at. Even a little insulting at times. Everyone grows up eventually and I hadn’t worn diapers in a very long time.
When depictions of my infant self weren’t on display, I managed to truly enjoy the art. Occasionally, I became distracted by some of the couples wandering through the museum. For some, there was an obvious attraction between the two. Others seemed to simply be putting on an elaborate ruse, too afraid to admit that they weren’t right for each other. I had to truly resist marching over and providing impromptu couples therapy sessions.
I kept the thoughts of helping them to myself and followed Iris into the next section of the museum. She stopped in place, her eyes fixed on a statue.
As soon as my eyes landed on the statue, I turned away with a groan.
“I forgot she was here,” Iris said, staring at the armless and mostly nude statue.
“Same,” I said. I watched Iris as she studied the Venus de Milo, her head tilting sideways.
“It does kind of look like her, doesn’t it?”
I pinched the bridge of my nose before studying the statue, keeping my eyes focused on her face, not daring to look any lower. “It’s close, but no. By the time this sculpture was crafted, Mom was already gone.”
My cousin chewed her lip before turning a sympathetic gaze on me. “Do you miss her?”
“Sometimes. Do you?” I asked, already guessing the answer.
She grimaced as she tried to come up with a polite response.
I poked her side. “Be honest.”
She jumped before her shoulders slumped. “Not really. We were both very different and never really got along.”
“Yeah,” I said, studying the blank expression on the statue's face. “Mom was good at rubbing people the wrong way.”
“Also just rubbing them in general.” Iris smirked, as she elbowed my ribcage. Her gleeful expression only grew as my face contorted with disgust.
“Oh, come on! That’s my mother. I don’t want to think about that!”
Iris laughed as she turned away from the statue and examined the rest of the hall. “I’m sorry, but she wasn’t exactly shy about her exploits before you came around. She’d drive Athena and me nuts.”
I followed her, only to find several more sculptures filled the hall, and quite a few of them were meant as depictions of my mother. I shuddered, pleased to see that Iris appeared to be as uncomfortable as me about seeing the many nude, or partially nude, sculptures of people we once knew. I never wanted to see that much of old relatives, real or not.
We stood stalk still, refusing to step any further into the hall. “Next time you’re in town, Psyche and I are taking you to a ballet,” I said.
Iris nodded as we both rushed through the hall in search of artwork that didn’t feature old friends. We continued exploring the museum for another hour or so before I got a call.
I answered with a smile. “Bonjour, Ma Fée.”
“Mon Ange,” Psyche replied on the phone. “My class is finished. If Iris is up to it, there’s a local café I think she’ll like.”
I relayed the information to Iris, who nodded excitedly. I informed Psyche and I could hear the smile in her voice. “Great, I’ll text you the address.”
“Sounds good, we’ll meet you there. Love you.”
When I hung up, I noticed Iris staring at me with a wide grin. “You two are so sweet together.”
I slipped the phone back into my pocket and pointed a finger at her. I’d listened to her talk about her husband enough to know that she loved him as much as I loved my wife. “You and Nicholas are no better.”
A blush coated my cousin’s cheeks as she turned away. “Well, he’s amazing.”
I couldn’t disagree.
Iris and I left the museum in high spirits, talking animatedly about what we might want to eat at the bakery. My mouth started watering at the thought.
It was good to be with family again.