I spent a regular day just sitting around, talking and not really thinking too much about my flight. I guess it was that I realized it wasn’t until the evening so it always seemed hours away. I got to the airport and immediately felt protective of everything. I was surrounded by a crowd of people as I was checking in that quite frankly made me concerned. To add insult to injury was the fact that my baggage was completely overweight by about 30 pounds, “Lord, seriously, could you help me out here?” was my prayer. Somehow the woman said nothing and I was on my way without the very expensive overage fees. Woo! I sat at my gate, starving and looking out the window trying to get every last thing in order. I stamped envelopes with ink in preparation for letter/postcard writing either on the plane, or soon after arriving, I stared out the window looking as our dinners were being loaded onto the plane and used my phone for the last time with a Canadian number for the next 6 months. Finally I felt like I could celebrate that at long last my secret didn’t have to be a secret anymore. I knew I was finally leaping and finally I’ll be able to breath deeply knowing that this dream is now a reality.
On the plane I felt like I couldn’t stop squirming. I watched a movie as I waited for dinner and listened to the mix Jen made for me and many of the songs were about planes and trains and well, very fitting indeed. When dinner was finally over and I’d had a glass of wine I assumed it only fitting to take a nap for a couple hours so I’d be fresh faced for my stop over in London. As most good friends know I have a lovely habit of falling asleep mid conversation but this gift of mine didn’t carry over onto the flight for some reason, I was awake the entire time. Eventually I stopped fighting it and put on another film. In London I was exhausted, it must have been somewhere near 2am and I was wandering with my heavy camera bag and my carry on through Heathrow’s terminal 5 which felt more like a shopping mall than an airport and my body was achy so it sometimes felt like I was walking from one end of a city to another. Not only that but it felt like all of London was employed at the terminal. I went through line after line as they carried us through another security clearance immediately following our flight and I was forced to check my carry on. I went into the duty free and talked with a man about scotch feeling like a kid in a candy store with all new candy. I told him I wasn’t in a place to buy but that I appreciated all that he could afford to tell me and he seemed genuinely happy to share his wealth of knowledge. When my feet could take being awake no longer and my back was suffering from having to carry my bag I went to the boards where my gate was finally released. I hobbled to my gate, sat down and waited. It says free wi-fi everywhere, they lie. There’s no free wi-fi… unless you have a password for some British company.
Before long I was on another flight. I had no idea what time it was, how long the flight was all I knew is that the sun was all of a sudden inescapable above the clouds and now I wanted to sleep but I so badly wanted to see Paris and we swooped in.
The Orly airport was just as my parents had told me: old and unimpressive. I’m pretty sure the terminal in Guatemala, Romania or Ukraine were all cumulatively more impressive but thankfully it’s just their old airport and it’s only my entry point…
At a snails pace I got myself off the plane, picked up my bags and sat down only to reorganize all my belongings to make them easier to take on the Metro.
The trains were so confusing after being up more than 24 hours and you’re at a place that seems completely in the middle of nowhere unable to make sense of the directions to where you’re sleeping, the phone number you have isn’t working and you’re fully aware you’re about to guess your way “home” for the next week.
With a euro spent on the phone call and finding out Gosia wasn’t the one on the other end I went around asking anyone where the heck RER train B was. “No no madame, you have to uhhh take the C first to the B you must go there uhh…” Well I was feeling mildly overwhelmed but because my brain couldn’t handle much I couldn’t even break down or worry I just had to keep moving. The woman at the ticket booth helped me put together a completely different route and another woman on the train confirmed she thought it was a good idea so I made my way hoping to make it in one piece and not having anything stolen.
When I finally arrived at the station “Nogent sur Marne” I got off and started to walk down the cobblestone streets with my heavy luggage and I can’t imagine how many people I asked for directions and no one really seemed to know what street I was looking for but somehow I made it. Only one thing… when I got there I realized there was a keypad outside the building but no buzzer and so I hoped maybe I could use a phone from a business down the street but I wasn’t sure which one to go in but I was so tired I could barely muster words. Thankfully it was only a second later and I heard someone inside and out popped Gosia and her dog Charlie! Next challenge 4 flights of stairs, 2 girls and a dog and my big luggage.
I came in, she made me tea and an omlette and sent me into the shower which I was more than happy to take. I then took a 2 hour nap and we hopped on the train to meet Arno and his coworkers for a dinner at a nice restaurant in the 10th Arr. Called fidelity. Wine was pouring freely, many ordered appetizers, bread was always overflowing at the table, so much so I could hardly eat my salmon. I attempted to speak French when the ground stopped appearing to move underneath my feet like the oceans. Arno is a designer, a very good one at that and the small group of designers he belongs to have been contracted to work at the Louis Vuitton Design House among other projects. It was a nice group and we ate so well.
Welcome to Paris I guess…