The night before we were set to leave Paris was filled with giddy excitement, that for better or worse, we’d be back on our home turf in less than 24 hours. Reality begins to set in, and the final hours of our trip are in reflection of the fun we had and the bullshit we experienced, and in the final measure, determine if the trip was a success.
We kick into “Go” mode and start planning out all the things that can become complicated, the things within the sphere of our control before being rocketed across the Atlantic. The checkout sheet given to us by the travel team was needlessly complicated. Leave the bags inside the door, beginning at 6:00 where the bellhop will come to retrieve them, take them down to the first floor, where we must claim them again and check out. Then meet the bus to the airport by 7:15.
We wondered why we’d need to do all those things when we were perfectly capable of moving our own luggage, which we did. Eliminating the last minute possibility of something going missing, we approached the checkout desk ready to GTFO!
We chatted up a lovely group of Australians who had just checked in for their month long tour of Europe. After just a week away, the idea seemed just as foreign to me as their delightful accents. Soon our bus arrived and we piled in with the other weary travellers, a collective yearning for home hanging heavily in the air.
The bus dropped us off at a ground floor terminal, along with another group from our trip. Another bus emptied into the lot next to us and more tourists poured out. Our bus had been given information on where to go next, but the other bus clearly hadn’t gotten the same. By the time we all met up at the terminal, there had been some major mixups about where to go, leaving the already weary crowd that much more irritated.
We had some time to kill before our flight, so we wandered the airport, milling around the duty free shops. I managed to score some German chocolate eggs, which used to be banned in the United States because they were deemed a choking hazard. Inside each egg was a small toy to be assembled, and although precautions were made to ensure that you couldn’t just bite down and choke, the toys were clearly not intended for very small children. The packaging does reflect this, but until very recently, it was still verboten in the U.S.
Our flight was delayed departing due to some issues with the air conditioner. The growing crowd around the terminal seemed ready to go hostile as announcement after announcement played out in a distant muffled speaker. No one knew why the plane wasn’t boarding, and the mood was growing ever more sour.
Colleagues of my husband milled about, muttering how it shouldn’t be like this, how the travel department failed them somehow, and how someone, somewhere was going to hear about it. There was only futility in posturing like that. Strutting about like an angry peacock doesn’t not make the plane load any faster, nor does it help anyone’s mood.
Finally, we boarded, and settled in. A few rows back, there was some fracas from a passenger unhappy with his seat. Perhaps he wanted a row, or didn’t care for the old woman coughing nearby, but the flight attendant put him promptly in his place. There were simply no other seats on the plane, that making a scene would get him taken off the plane, and if he could not accept his fate, he would be welcome to come back tomorrow to get another seat. From what I could overhear, it was difficult to hear if the words actually reached the complainer.
A woman who was talking to her husband in another row, offered up her seat in a different part of the plan just to shut the guy up. He took them and left, and the crisis seemed averted for now. The delay behind us, we left about 30 minutes later than originally anticipated, time that could have been made up in the air, and was, from what I can tell.
The flight went faster than I had expected. The on-board entertainment helped tremendously. In as quickly as three movies, I was on the ground in Philly, interrupted by terrible meals that somehow airlines are still compelled to provide. The flight would have been easier, if someone hadn’t actually eaten the food because there was some serious crop dusting happening the whole time. By the time we got on the ground, I was ready to murder whoever was responsible. And I probably would have, if the flight in wasn’t so horribly bumpy. I’ve had some rough landings in Philadelphia, but I’ve never thought I might actually throw up on a plane before.
On the ground, safe, tired, dirty and cranky, we cleared customs, waited for our luggage, then our car, still coming to terms with the fact that we were home. Less than an hour and we’d be holding our son again, jumping back into the craziness of our real lives again.
We arrived home to find our little man watching television. His face lit up when he saw us, and the overwhelming joy washed over us all as we grabbed him up into a big group hug. The trip had taken its toll on him as well, as we would imagine. His self awareness, dependence on a routine, and our involvement in his day-to-day made this trip more difficult to endure than the one we took the year before. It gave me pause, when considering the next trip to convention in Las Vegas would take place in less than two months. The dread of going through this all over again tugged at my heart. I was happiest here at home with my family.