Friday, July 06, 2007

from Paris/Madison: charmed

This day. Ask, and you shall receive.

I leave Paris sadly. Oh, so sadly. I live here in my soul (do we have souls?). Occasionally, I have been here with people whom I love. Mostly, I am here alone.

I am troubled. I have to now face the task of taking the Turkish carpet back home. The heavy carpet. In a broken suitcase that may or may not hold it. And, I have an additional suitcase that I have purchased here, to hold everything else. Including the just purchased, couldn’t resist it, yes I know – how stupid of me, rosé. Lovely little new suitcase. Blue and orange, like Nice colors. It has a problem. It drags its goddamn bottom every time it hits an uneven surface. Like sagging flesh, scraping the sidewalk.

But I am determined to take the metro (RER) to the airport. I can do it! Two suitcases (one that drags), a camera bag with two cameras, a laptop case, a purse. So what. I can do it!

My arms ache. I am tired of watching out for dog shit. Three blocks have never seemed so long.

I forge ahead.

I am counting on that French handsome man who will help me carry two suitcase (and then some) down the blasted long steps of the RER stop. No one around.

I lug it all, first the one, then the other (I am so happy to have purchased the Turkish carpet. Yes I am! Just not at this moment.)

The train is crowded. Many men rush to help me get the suitcases on board. I am in France.

At the airport, I check in and ask the usual. May I have an upgrade? I’ll spend miles. I have hundreds, thousands of miles. An upgrade maybe?

And I am told the usual: go to the ticket office and ask.

I go to the ticket office.
No madame. You have the cheapest of the cheap tickets. You cannot have an upgrade.

I go to the tax rebate desk. Gulp. It’s always tense here for me. I do not bring all my purchases for their inspection – they are all sent through, waiting to get on board to Chicago. That is against the rules. But I always hope. See, in life, one should hope.

And she waves me on. Okay – here are your rebate papers! Bonne journee!

I pass through customs. OH!!!!!! They have finally opened the new terminal at Charles de Gaulle! Just this week!! No more multiple buses and long corridors and ramshackle spaces. I have stuck with Air France through it all, when it was worse than bad to connect through here because of the construction and now I am rewarded. The new space is lovely!

I sit in the lounge and I drink champagne. Business class travelers drink champagne in flight, continuously, but us mortals, even though we have collected enough points and miles to send an entire Italian family to New Zealand and back, we can only indulge in champagne here, in the lounge.

And I do. I love champagne to death and can never afford it back home, but here, in the Air France lounge it is free free free free and so I sip. The hope is that it will zonk me out on take off and I wont wake up til landing. It’s just a hope.

It is boarding time., My check-in agent had said that when I pass through the last ticket check, I could again try for an upgrade. You naïve person, you. I have done that in the past and have gotten glares from the harried ticket checkers: People are boarding the plane, Jesus, just live with your status!

But I ask, because of all those glasses of champagne I suppose and there you have it. I am charmed this day. The carpet is on board, I am on board and we’re both flying business! At least I am. I hope they’re treating the carpet well.

The plane has a brand new interior and business and first are merged into one and the seat stretches this way and that and on take off I am offered champagne again, only I cannot drink it all because it would zonk me out for the flight and in this beautiful space, I want to stay awake.

In that lovely new interior, the sound system breaks down. And so, no one has music or video or any other form of entertainment, but this is just fine by me, because I have books and magazines and for nine hours I read and and eat and read and these nine hours have gone way too fast.

The plane comes in early (the predicted storms never materialize), my suitcases are among the first on the belt. I make it to the Van Galder bus with ten minutes to spare.

On the way to Willie Street Co-op to pick up some milk for a morning café crème, I stop and take this photo, thinking – it has elements of Paris (the sky) and of Bodrum and Nice (the water) and really one cannot complain because each place has its photographable matter and you just have to look for it.


I mean, Nice has the colors, but that's just a subjective and silly proclamation, since there are colors the planet over. Right?

I am happy to be connected to people that matter again, I am happy to be home. And still, I wish I were going back for a week-end in Nice, like the Belgians in the restaurant. Not just now, but maybe next weekend? It's just a hope.