Sunday, December 26, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I left for France on Tuesday.

I did not arrive at my destination until late Thursday.

Don't. Ever. Travel. During. Holidays.

Also not with my brother. What a doofus. He brought 4 enormous suitcases. Which we had to get on the first plane, haul through customs and pick up after, run through the airport with them to the next connection, throw them all on an airport shuttle, then when we missed our connection because of said enormous bags, take all with us to the ticketing office. When we were told there were no flights at all until the following day whilst at Orly in Paris, we then dragged them back on the bus to the train station, pulled them over to the ticketing office there, and after waiting for an hour to speak with someone were told that the trains were all booked up, I took a moment to wipe a tear of frustration out of my eye and to buy cigarettes and coffee to wake me up, we waited for 30 minutes in the freezing rain to go BACK TO THE AIRPORT. There I got us on a shuttle for a hotel. once there, we split up because i was about to lunge at my brother, who while we were on the bus, whined "You'll have to carry everything now. I'm not sure I can do this any more. I think I have to stay on the bus for a while cause I need to sit."


I was the one talking in broken French with everyone. I was the one figuring everything out and I was the one carrying half his shit plus mine while he whined and moaned and got in the way and stood there with his mouth open, complaining that he hadn't had any sleep and he was tired. Indeed, I felt all these things too. But could I feel any of them? Being in charge of us both and all that stuff? Could I just give up because my credit card was not working and I had no money? Or that our phones were all screwy? Or that the airlines didn't want to even book us on anything and asked us to repay because of a problem in the system?

My brother swears Satan himself flew up from my throat and came out of my mouth in a cloud of black smoke. Because I didn't yell, I didn't swear, but I absolutely hissed in a Walt Disney-worthy villan's baritone:

"Give me a reason to leave you behind."

So we checked into (the) Paris Hilton. As I joked, it's about as clean as you'd expect but there were a surprising amount of Albanians in there. Zing! Zang!

Anyway, we are at the hotel and bro immediately goes to sleep. The moment I do, the phone rings. Our flight the next day has been cancelled too. All flights have. Seems a snow storm was coming. All the trains were booked as well.

My mother finally secured us a reservation on a different train at a very far away station. I stayed awake the entire night because there was so much to do the next day. I had been away for 42 hours. I had slept maybe a total of three hours. This will bring madness. Don't try it. I may never be the same again.

So we get to the train station by 4:30. There was no way in hell I was going to miss this train. We camped out in front of the ticket office for the next two hours until it opened. Like they were Superbowl tickets or something. Well, they were. When I got to the woman, who could not understand my sleepy, strung-out, awful, awful French and did not have our reservation and finally, after seeing me pull out my greatest asset, my ability to look like a third world child who is about to die, let us buy the last tickets on the train, I nearly leaped over the partition and squeezed her in my arms. J'taime mademoiselle! J'taime!

Six more hours on a train. The inevitable transfer and running up and down stairs and squeezing on to the new train with all those bags. Another few hours. Still no sleep. And we finally arrived in Cahoors, about an hour away from Bordeaux.

My dad met us. I haven't been so excited to see my dad since I was four years old and picked up at the babysitter's house (it smelled like the inside of a pumpkin and they had no good games).

Everything since being here has been fabulous: snow and chapel, Boxing day lunch, bookstore champagne parties, glittering blue Christmas lights, roast potatoes and the puppy and a beautiful bed. My bedroom here has shutters which give it total darkness. I have never slept so hard in my life. Each night I have been sleeping with a vengance. The fireplaces are always burning and Orangina is always close at hand. I was even invited by some incredibly stylish English girls all wearing over-the-knee Chanel boots, to spend the afternoon with them letterpressing stationary or whatever the big trend is here in Europe. I am also apparently, supposed to discuss my ideas for a magazine that is only available in application form--no print, no website, just an app, with a Dutchman who may or may not think that I am much smarter than I am.

I shall keep you in the loop on how that goes.

In the meantime it is the day after Christmas and everyone is in bed, even the dog, and I am left on the leather couch with all the suede pillows and the sinfully plush cashmere blankets (whether the couch is meant to be styled like it is in Versailles remains to be seen: I suspect Mom bought a bunch of luxe add-ons after hearing Satan leap out of my throat and into the phone after our seventh or so missed plane and train.)

So I'm left to the fire and the films, which are piled up next to the television as we have no channels yet. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of our family's favorite movies to watch during the holidays. Steve Martin. John Candy. They can't get home for the holidays. Everything goes wrong. They practically die about four times. Their planes, trains and automobiles fail them at every turn. It's usually hilarious.

Well, it was. Now, I can't bring myself to watch it. I'd sooner put escargots up my nose. I may never watch the movie again. Or travel again. But then, it is so nice here. Quiet and twinkling and lovely. I will enjoy it for a while before I have to venture back on the 2nd. Let's not think about that for now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds postively epic. Glad you made it there alive! Snow is causing all sorts of trouble stateside, too.