Today has been quite a day. And when I say today, I mean the last full 24 hours. And when I say quite a day, I mean WOW I could use a drink. For those of you who aren’t already aware, I’m headed home for the holidays for a whole month and could not be more excited if I tried – especially bc I’m bringing my v handsome boyfriend human home with me for the first 10 days, which is a pretty big deal considering A. when was the last time I had an actual boyfriend and B. he’s meeting the family for the first time. Well, sort of – he already met the girls when they came out for a visit in July but this is the real deal. So let me catch you up real quick: after graduation in September I decided to book a ticket home for the holidays for a long trip bc my current job (which I worked part time during my masters) is now a full time job and will allow me to leave for a long Christmas with the fam which is soooo worth putting off the search for a big kid job bc I haven’t been in California since last Christmas season and haven’t seen most of my family (and second family i.e. the Bearce family) since March. Seeing as how they’re my favorite people on the planet, this trip has been a long time coming. I booked my tickets while I was out in Greece this past September after Stijn booked his bc the brat found cheap tickets and decided that he was coming to California whether I was going along or not (a very cute yet terrifyingly spontaneous gesture considering we’d just started dating) and it honestly turned out to be the best possible thing he could have done. So as it stood, he found unbelievably cheap tickets direct from Paris to LAX and booked himself a flight from the 16th to the 25th of December, so I texted my boss for approval of vacation dates and booked myself a ticket from the 16th of December to the 19th of January. See? I could never have gotten that much time off if I had a real big kid job (this is my justification for not finding one yet but like also it’s true so whatever). As we were flying out of Paris and bc Stijn is, as previously mentioned, a spontaneous (and very romantic) human, he booked us a hotel for the night before bc he’d never been to Paris and it was the perfect opportunity to explore the city of love together.
Oh Paris. The city of love, as they say. A city of breathtaking architecture, mouthwatering food, and the undeniable feeling of love in the air. But Paris is not all sunshine and rainbows people. In fact, sometimes it’s cloudy with a chance of pick pocketers.
Yup. I’ve been to Paris twice in the last few years and apparently the third time’s the charm, bc 15 minutes after my arrival at the train station to meet up with Stijn, I fell victim to the pick pocket capitol of Europe. 15 minutes. It wasn’t even long enough to actually mentally arrive in the country (bc as we all know I lag about 15 minutes like an old school dial up computer in any given situation) and just like that, I was phone-less. Well, not “just like that” so much as “just after an elaborately planned and probably well-used strategy to distract me while pulling my phone out of my jacket pocket” but you catch my drift. Ya girl was phone-less in yet another foreign country. I say another, bc for those of you that have been following my idiotic adventures for a while, you know that my phone has been stolen before (significantly more violently bc it was from a super jerk on a motorbike who also took my passport and wallet with him in Malaysia) and ironically enough, it’s the same exact type of phone that got stolen last time. I’m getting the distinct impression that the universe does not want me to have a Samsung Galaxy S8, so if anyone has any other phone recommendations, I’m ready to hear them. I prefer cheap.
So after a few moments of reflection which mostly involved me laughing hysterically and repeating “holy shit holy shit holy shit” while Stijn did his best to handle me and remind me that it would all work out, I was commandeering Stijn’s phone texting my mom and dad (whose numbers he was amazed I remembered but that’s only bc they got those numbers in the years before I had a phone and so I had to actually remember them myself) and letting them know that I’d be off the grid for the next few days. Luckily I’m not actually that far off the grid though, bc I have officially taken partial custody of Stijn’s phone which has gone off more in the last 24h than it has in his entire life (not bc he has no friends just bc my friends and I talk with a lot more frequency – he has at least one friend).
Anyway aside from the casual loss of belongings, there was another super fun factor at play which I haven’t yet mentioned: the entirety of Paris public transportation systems are currently on strike. This is not new. French people and Spaniards alike go on strike like it’s their job (like, literally) so the super fun task of getting from one end of Paris to another without any actual consistent train possibilities fell to us. The joys. So we waited for a train for way too damn long only to shove ourselves onto a packed one like a couple of sardines bc when no other trains are running, the ones that do are full to the brim. We finally made it to our hotel, which is right about when Stijn decided it was appropriate to start playing a bunch of songs having to do with telephone use like Carly Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” and Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” which was suuuuuper fun. Hilarious, even. We regrouped and emotionally rallied (me anyway) before heading out to see as many sights as we could see – without the use of public transport. Mind you, Paris is massive. And there was no public transport. We walked a half marathon yesterday from our hotel to the Arc to the Eiffel Tower and everything in between – with a stop for crepes in between, bc like, obviously??
It wasn’t long before we were heading home to set alarms and make plans for transport to the airport (bc I am consistently stressed about catching flights bc I’ve missed a few in my time and this whole public transport strike thing really wasn’t helping). We thought we’d found a train that would run and planned several hours of leeway time just in case, only to walk over to the freaking metro station and see a totally and completely closed down train system. Alright, fine, so we’ll call an Uber, right? Wrong. An Uber would cost us a casual 100 euros, bc supply and demand is the enemy. So now what? Cry? Well I won’t lie, our next stop was to a French boulangerie for macarons and a very disappointing spinach quiche which happened to have freaking SALMON in it and nobody told me so I almost threw up into the airplane doggy bag but I digress) but after that Stijn was on his phone working his magic trying to find us a way to get to the airport that wouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg, which is when he found ONE SINGLE BUS heading out in HALF AN HOUR which was about a 20 minute walk. Fine, so we walk. We get to the station and find a bus that is almost completely full, and cross our fingers that we will be allowed on it bc if we missed it we would have basically been down for the count bc they only come every half an hour and all these public transport issues were screwing us over. We made it – freaking barely – and spent the next hour thanking the universe for letting us get this far… but we spoke too soon, folks. Much too soon.
We arrived at the airport a solid 2.5h before our flight, which is pretty respectable in any normal freaking situation, but at this point what in my life should actually be normal, right? So we walk up to Air France (bc we’re flying a Delta flight operated by Air France) and they send us to some line which we eventually find out was not the line we should have been in in the first place bc there was a whole other check in area for our flight which no one mentioned to us bc everyone kept walking away when we tried to walk up and ask a question. Fabulous, we love the French. At this stage, we were starting to worry, bc Stijn is not a US citizen and has to get his visa checked before and after our flight. We run up to the correct desk, and think we’re good to go, until the woman started shaking her head and looking confused. We asked her if everything was alright, and what was her answer? No. Literally, that’s all she said. The word “no.” Awesome. Fantastic. COME ON.
So apparently, something was wrong with Stijn’s passport, as in the machine couldn’t read it, so she walked away to another counter to try and put it in manually. She was gone for what felt like forever. Did it work? No. What was wrong? Don’t know. She asked for Stijn’s visa and starts saying that something was wrong with it, which was literally impossible bc he was approved for it months ago, and spent the next half hour trying to call people from different departments trying to figure out what the hell was wrong. At this stage our flight literally LEAVING THE GATE in an hour and the likelihood of us making it through security and to our gate before they close boarding is slim to none. So like, obviously I’m crying, bc what the hell else am I going to do. Stijn was trying to stay positive but I’m not going to lie to you I’m pretty sure we were both trying to figure out when the best time to say goodbye would be bc there was no way we were both going to make it on this flight. A solid 20 minutes later, at which point I had not left to go through security on my own and the front desk had made no progress with his visa, somebody higher up made some sort of executive decision to let us fly. So… now I was still crying, but it was one part happy tears and one part there’s-still-no-way-we’ll-make-it tears. We ran to the passport control area, where my line was way longer than Stijn’s what with my lack of EU citizenship (ugh) and it was all I could do not to explode standing there waiting to get through. Next up was security, where we met another couple hoping to catch the same flight. Fortunately one of them spoke fluent French and got us to the front of the security line – much to the chagrin of the man in charge of organizing the security line. I should probably mention at this point that Stijn can speak pretty decent basic French – like he got us through everything we needed to get through and it was very impressive, but we were at a point past his level of French (to be honest it was past any level of anything, I was losing my damn mind), so it was lucky that we made friends. After the rush through security, it was an all-out race to gate K51, which just so happened to be as far as any gate could possibly be from the security check point, bc of course it was. I won’t lie to you, folks. I am out of shape. A one-year intensive masters and a love of alcohol has not fed into the physical ability to make a break for it. Like, if I was running for my life, I would just give up. It’s not going to happen. But apparently that’s not the case for Stijn, who weaved in and out of airport-goers like a damn gazelle on his way to the gate. He looked back and started to wait for me, at which point I shouted (through the heavy breathing) to go on without me and just let ‘em know I was coming. In my defense, the other couple was even further behind me, but they didn’t seem like the gym-going type, so my defense here is pretty weak. Anyway, Stijn the gazelle made it to the gate just in time and they let us on no problem (the front desk had told them there would be a couple of idiots running late) and we heavily breathed our way down the gangway to our plane, in total disbelief that not only was he allowed to fly with me, but that we’d even made our flight period.
And that left us with one last battle: the seating. We had to check in separately bc Stijn couldn’t check in online what with not being a US citizen, so we got seats in different areas, which was super not the dream bc the flight is 11h and what was I going to do without a phone AND without a boyfriend to annoy for that long? Just sit there? No. So we headed to the back of the plane (where people who buy insanely cheap round trip tickets belong) to see what we could make happen. Luckily there was an adorable older couple of which one of whom had taken my seat in the hopes that we could switch so that they could sit together, which was obviously fine with me, so we just had to wait until the person in the seat next to me walked our way to kindly beg them to let us sit next to each other and it freaking WORKED. So what that means now is that we are halfway through this flight and I have annoyed Stijn more than anyone ever should be able to annoy another human being in such a short period of time and such a concentrated (inescapable) place. Whatever, he brought this on himself, and he’s about to spend the next 10 days with 3 women who are just as annoying and wonderful as yours truly, so he may as well get used to it.
But for now, I’m going to sip my poor quality free airplane wine and appreciate the fact that I have my boyfriend beside me and am about to see a whole bunch of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Sometimes life can punch you in the face, but it seems to work out alright in the end… phone or no phone.
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)