We woke up far too early today so that we could finish packing our things up. I was excited and ready to go home, but a little reluctant to leave the place which I had started to call home and mean it when I said it. But, before I had a chance to really say goodbye, Steph had arrived to check us out and bring our transportation. In the blink of an eye, all of our bags were loaded into the shuttle van and we were on our way to the airport. (Not before saying goodbye to my fickle feline friends which sometimes like to see me and Jessica. They came to say goodbye. Cats are so smart.)
It was strange to drive through the city. After a few blocks, I had no idea where I was, I had always traveled the city underground, so, seeing it from this perspective was interesting. I saw the canal where there are houseboats and really crappy areas and really nice areas. As we drove, I realized how little I knew of Paris and thought of all the things that I had missed and would miss.
The city seemed to fade away and we were on a stretch of road that could have very well been in Iowa. The only thing that really distinguishes our roads from French roads is the vehicles. In France, almost all of the cars look like they were designed in the 1980s, it’s strange.
A light rain had began to fall as we made our way into the airport, each of us in charge of a cart laden with luggage. It was a difficult journey, but we soon made it to the proper spot to claim our boarding passes. We weren’t allowed to upgrade here, Ma had promised me more comfortable seats on the way home, they said we could upgrade at the boarding area.
Security stuck stickers all over our bags with various letters and symbols. I don’t know what they were for, but they were excessive.
We made our way to Passport Control, when Jessica started to get testy, she has an issue with figures of authority. After a very long line, I was admitted clearance to go home, then we went through security. This line was painful. A flight from Washington DC had been late, so there were many people rushing through to catch their connecting flights. The airport staff ushered them through first, which made sense, but it did nothing for my patience, which was wearing thin. We finally made it to the front and through security. Mother managed to get my Oasis juice boxes through. The guard pretended he couldn’t see them. It made me laugh, in America we would have been arrested.
As soon as we were through security, we were thrust onto the plane with no option to upgrade, much to my frustration. But, in the end our seats weren’t bad, not at all. I sat next to a very quiet woman who was rather nice.
Soon we were in the air, making our way to Chicago, I was very excited to finally go home. I hadn’t been longing for home, except for an occasional desire to cuddle my cat, Tiger, but now that it was so close, I was ready to be there. During the flight, I watched several episodes of The French Chef with Julia Child. There are so many similarities between her and I, so I always enjoy watching her or reading about her. After that, I read for a while, and before long, we were approaching land.
As always, there is a mad rush to stand up to go nowhere and we were the last ones off of the plane. I really don’t know why. It took forever to get down to Passport Control — so many winding halls and corridors and vast open spaces to walk through. I was admitted back to the country and was on my way to baggage claim. You aren’t allowed to transfer you luggage on international flights, which sucks, so we had to drag it to the next security check.
This was the beginning of the end of my patience. For one thing, the line was long and slow, the staff was totally unknowledgeable about everything, and the security staff was comprised of assholes and overly suspicious losers. They wanted to know why I would be carrying Crayola crayons. I said that they were for drawing. For some reason, they found my answer suspicious, so they searched my entire carefully packed bag. Then they took out a massive book of Parisian architecture and examined it page-by-page as if waiting for it to blow up. At least twenty minutes later, I was cleared to board my plane.
(Security asked the old man behind me why he had something in his bag, to which he casually responded, “It’s a bomb building kit.” I admired this man, but security didn’t find it nearly as funny as I did.)
Jessica and I planned on taking Wolfgang Puck Express on the plane and Ma was going to get some popcorn. But the idiots at Security had taken up all of our time so we barely had a moment to go to Wolfgang’s and mother had no time to even smell her popcorn.
The plane was, of course, a half-mile away with just a few minutes to get there, while lugging heavy bags. It was miserable, but we made it to the plane with just a few minutes to spare. It was a beautiful plane, probably the nicest I’d ever been in, it was very nice and new and comfortable.
We were in the air quickly, and just as quickly, we started our descent. I was a little dismayed to see how dead Iowa looked in late March. Paris was green and full of life. We landed and I excitedly left the plane and hurried down the escalator to see Pa and my grandparents. It was very nice to see them and even better to see Pa again.
We slowly made our way to baggage claim to find that our luggage was still in Chicago. What luck! They told us to come back around nine and it should be there.
We went out to dinner at a restaurant called Tumea & Sons. It had decent food, nothing great. I had a dish called Chicken de Burgo…kind of a cream and garlic sauce which was good if not totally satisfying. Father’s dish of pasta was massive and the waitress said she would give him free cheesecake if he finished it. That was a stupid challenge, of course he could finish it, and he did.
We got our luggage from the airport and left. I petted my animals until they were bald and I was home…comme si de rien n’était.*
*As if nothing happened.