Homecoming

Up at 4:15. The rest of this time zone was calmly dreaming of sugar plums and vin chaud and Père Noël and I don’t know how I got dressed this morning and didn’t walk out of my room with my pants on my arms and my thermal underwear on inside out and backwards despite the fact that I laid it all out the night before because I only got five hours of sleep last night (and two the night before), but I did it. The Marriott was on point. They slipped my checkout slip under my door, so all I had to do was call the front desk to check out. I still had to go out to the lobby (well… not really, some lazy bugger left one in my hallway) to get a trolley to load up my luggage, but it made my departure a little easier. I got in the 5AM shuttle, and made it to the Jet Blue check in counter just fine. Out of curiosity (and because I had plenty of time), I asked the teller to tell me exactly what my larger suitcase weighed. Air France didn’t overcharge me yesterday. It was four pounds (two kilos) overweight! Today, I had to pay $90 in overages ($40 for the second bag, $50 for the overweight fee). I was a little overzealous in how much I managed to fit in my larger suitcase, and it bit me in the rear end… to the tune of about $220 more than I had expected it to. Tant pis pour moi…

Security was a breeze, more so because I always buy the Even More Space/Even More Speed option from Jet Blue when I travel with them. It definitely comes in handy when you’re in a big airport like Dulles. I was put in the preferred customer line for security, so I didn’t have to wait as long. I’d packed carefully last night, and I’ve figured out that your laptop goes in a bin apart from everything else, your phone, your iPod, your watches/bracelets (but not my Medic Alert one since it’s never supposed to come off), your belt(s), your jacket, and your liquids can all go in the same bin, and your close-toed shoes go through on their own, so I wasn’t caught up with anything. By the time I made it to my gate, I had half an hour before boarding, and an hour before my flight was set to take off, so I did some blogging to catch up.

The flight was pretty pleasant. I took a couple cat naps, and enjoyed a lot of SIRIUS Satellite Radio to get myself re-accustomed to it since it’s in my car. I really love flying Jet Blue. They have gluten-free snacks! I had a big cup of tea, and a bag of caramel-flavored Popcorners. The captain even came over the intercom system to let us know that there was a wonderful view of the Grand Canyon when we were flying right over it, and it happened to be on my side of the aircraft… and I had a window seat!

We landed in Long Beach right on schedule at 9:39 AM local time… it’s a nice airport, but it’s so tiny… and I couldn’t get the WiFi to work to save myself! I caught up on WRITING all of my blogs (so all I had to do afterward was copy and paste once I got home), then I put on some makeup so I looked presentable for my mom and my boyfriend, and I got a bite to eat. I had some tacos, which weren’t by any means bad, but I definitely was missing all the food I ate in France as a result. By the time my boarding time came around, I was wondering where the plane was… it turned out our flight was coming in from Seattle, then everyone needed to de-plane, and it needed to be cleaned and refueled before we could board. Not too big of a deal, we all got on in time. Jet Blue boards people who pay for Even More Space/Speed first (I had that for my Dulles flight, not this one), then they board people with young children or people who need assistance or a bit more time to board next. One other thing I don’t like about Americans… they complain a lot. I stepped to the side and kept my mouth shut, but everyone else around me was trying to figure out what justified “assistance” and how they could get on the plane quicker… maybe I missed something. What’s the point?! We’re all going to get on, and leave at the same dang time, calmez-vous.

My jet lag caught up with me a bit on the plane. I sat next to a nice young man who noticed how fatigued I was and asked how much longer I needed to be traveling, so I told him I’d started in Paris. I told him a bit about my semester abroad… and then I promptly fell asleep sitting upright in my window seat for the duration of the hour and twenty minute long flight. I’m surprised I didn’t drool or snore.

I couldn’t get off of the plane fast enough when it landed in Oakland. That airport is a little bigger than Long Beach, I had a little further to walk, not that I couldn’t handle it. While I was waiting to deplane, my boyfriend and my mom had been texting me saying that they’d already parked the car, and made their way into a waiting area near the security checkpoint in the airport, so they’d intercept me on the way to baggage claim. As soon as they saw me, my boyfriend stood up, so I ran to him, he picked me (and my rolling carry on) up, and spun me around. Everyone else sitting in the waiting area went “awww…” because of how cute we both were. I gave my mom a big hug afterward… and left them in the dust as I hurried off to baggage claim. “You know, Paris would eat you two alive…” The baggage claim took forever to start. I had a few choice things to say to it in French after a while. My mom was a little amused. “Are you sure we sent you to France? That sounds like Chinese.” Some of the bags had been rained on since the sky had only just opened up when the plane touched down. I managed to grab mine myself even though my mom and my boyfriend didn’t think I could. “I had to drag these all over the place myself, after all. A lot’s changed since I’ve been in France!” We headed out to the car in an absolute monsoon reminded me of what Charlotte would describe regarding the random times it would rain in Nice. I grumbled in French the whole time, then got yelled at once I got into the car. “You’re in America now! Speak English!”

We hatched a plan to surprise Noah. My mom and boyfriend went inside the house to let all of the dogs outside to go to the bathroom while I dragged my suitcases up to the front door. My boyfriend had my camera to tape Noah’s reaction when I walked in the door…

Noah has gained weight since I have been gone because the crummy weather has soaked the local dog park. I lost 15 pounds in Paris. Noah seems to have gained them all.

After all that, it was up to me to make a French dinner for all of us. My mom had asked me for a shopping list earlier in the week so she had everything ready to go for me, including a $25 bottle of red wine that was delicious! I made a tomato and feta salad for entrée, then poulet à la Françoise (Mme. Remion’s balsamic/crème fraîche chicken) and green beans for plat principal, brie for the cheese course, and Tarte Tatin for dessert. I managed to burn the caramel sauce for the Tarte Tatin a little bit… but it’s a learning process. I’ll watch it a little bit closer next time! My mom and my boyfriend absolutely loved that chicken recipe. I had given each one of them the usual portion of baguette that Mme. Remion would eat her dinner with. My boyfriend ate his portion of the baguette… and all of what was left of it… and then he attempted to lick the plate because he liked the sauce that much… and he’s not a sauce person… After the meal, I gave each one of them one of their presents: the perfumes I’d brought each one of them. I got my mom a perfume in Normandy (on Mont St. Michel, specifically) and she tried to cut me some slack for the fact that it was called Mélancholie since she liked how it smelled so much. Score one so far… My boyfriend loved his cologne (Yves Saint Laurent’s L’Homme) as well, so I was two for two!

I was exhausted, and that single glass of red wine had affected me decently well because of how fatigued I was, so I had my mom take my boyfriend home for the night… and I headed off to bed…

After four months, I’m finally home. Well… I’m home in my country of citizenship. I’ve definitely left a big part of my heart of France, and I know I’ll go back in the future, certainly more than once. If I truly had my way… I’d live there. I’m not sure what this life has in store for me, but we’ll have to see. This part of my journey may be over, but rest assured, I’m not going to stop writing. I still have some wisdom to impart on the world, be it in my Top Tens, in little Silly Stories that I come across, or in other Language Lessons that I learn as I continue my studies in French. I may no longer live in Paris, but no matter where I go (I can hear Mme. Mellado saying “Quoi que tu fasses” right now…), I will always be La Parisienne Temporaire.

Il faut travailler, sinon par goût, au moins par désespoir, puisque, tout bien vérifié, travailler est moins ennuyeux que s’amuser. -Baudelaire. Journaux intimes

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