A combination of delirious excitement and overt exhaustion kept causing me to gently touch Shoes' arm as we sailed over France saying, "Look at the French clouds.  Look at the sweet, puffy little French clouds."  Sweet puffy french clouds quickly gave way to getting through customs in a country that was enveloped in heightened security, though.  Soldiers with guns in the airport.  Extra scrutiny at customs.

It took us a year to get to the right terminal after touching down.  Well.  Not really a year.  More like an hour.  An hour of reorienting ourselves to an airport that was not American, finding our way, and a terminal train that was completely shut down to an "unidentified piece of baggage" found in the terminal we were trying to get to.

We stood on the train platform for several minutes while more and more people flooded the area.

Before we go further I should mention I really know nothing about French culture.  What you're getting here is my own impression of what I experiences - and that experience isn't even informed by a specific region of the United States.

I watched the French airport guards, feeling the culture differences immediately.  Oh, these French guards in their fancy reflective vests, sweetly accessorized by their stripey European scarves.  These French guards with their ... manners?  So many "Madam, sil vous plaits" and demure smiles.  (maybe it's just that "madam" sounds so much more refined than a twangy "MA'AM?"  I suppose the other thing I should mention is that I fall out of love with American culture every time I travel.)  Here, on this train platform, is where I begin to realize what deep poop I'm in when it comes to the French language.  I had spent months learning basic Italian phrases for Rome; Shoes assured me he would do the same for French.  He did not.  My mother in law assured me she spoke conversational French; simply put, that did not work out like I expected.

I have absolutely no idea what Native French speakers are saying.  At any point.  More on this later.

We did get to the appropriate terminal in plenty of time.  Situation 2319 appropriately attended to, I suppose.  We sat in the airport at Charles de Gaulle for approximately two hours, staring at each other blankly and staring at the media coverage being displayed on the terminal television, waiting for the flight to Rome.  We did not need to speak French to understand the heartbreak and fear of a country in mourning.  We knew that story ourselves.

At this point, I could see that there were many of us about to board this plane that were dead tired.   All of my thoughts had stopped making sense at that point, and I had an absurd urge to buy all of the macaroons at the little Airport stand a few feet away.  All those mint green, pink and brown circles of light deliciousness ...  My head was swimming.  My eyes were hot.  And I kept remembering the time I completely freaked out on Former Husband after working a graveyard shift because I was convinced that he took the "wrong way" home with all of the red traffic lights on purpose to make me miserable and to keep me from sleep (don't worry if that doesn't make sense.  It really makes no sense no matter how clearly I explain it.)  Oh, fatigue.  How irrational you make my brain.

On the plane, many children.  By this point, loves, you must know how much I adore children.  And I have so much empathy for families when I fly.  But way in the back of the plane, way back, way, way, back was a family with a very small Terrier in a carrier (the fact that that rhymes was extremely humorous to me in my exhausted state), two teenagers and a toddler.  There are four things I remember about that leg of the trip:

1.  The terrier did not stop yapping the entire flight.  And by yapping, I mean the most horrible, awful, high pitched yap of a dog that I have ever heard in my life (and yes, of course that  impression is completely tainted by how sapped of being we were at the time).

2.  The little one had a very, very difficult time adjusting to the altitude.  She sounded absolutely miserable - screaming,  crying, inconsolable.

3.  The French flight attendant who continued to gently plead with the mother to, "Madam, pleeze, just try to walk zee child around.  Just stand up and walk her around."

4.  I turned to Shoes and said, "I would give just about anything to have a parachute to jump out of this hell at this very moment."

Also, there was an Italian woman who continued to insist to the flight attendants that Air France carried ear plugs for its passengers.  The flight attendants continued to insist they did not.  I would have given over all of my Euros for those mythical ear plugs at that moment.
In any case, I did not jump out.
We were, in fact, fine.
We touched down at Fiumicino without incident.
Dog and Toddler survived.
(and the poor babe calmed down as soon as we touched down and her ear pressure adjusted.)

{The pictures will start soon.}

1 Comment

  1. Andrea on February 21, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    Wow. Just wow. A travel nightmare for sure.
    Can't wait to see pictures!


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