Two years I waited. My trip to Paris was to commence on March 17, 2020, right when the world collectively shut down. It was physically painful to have to cancel every single reservation, every event, every exciting thought for my trip. By then, I had waited six years to go back to Paris (meaning my last trip was in 2014). By the time the world started to flutter its eyes and awaken, it had been eight years. This is a lot of math I’m throwing at you. The day had finally come to book our makeup flights and we (husband - Jeff - and myself) were ready to get to my favorite city: Paris. Everything I did to get to the week of my Parisian adventure with Jeff was done with care. The accommodations I chose, the seats on the airline, the endless restaurant searches. I was ready, but the world wasn’t quite ready for me, it seemed. Alas, my journey to get to Paris was one of fortitude and determination. Let me tell you about it.
How We Felt When We Were Uploading Documents
Apparently Vaccines Expire in France
Our flight left on a Friday night. We had Premium Select seats on Delta, and my plan was to sleep on the plane and wake up to croissants and baguettes. Ha! What really happened was…the Monday before, my husband was uploading his “health” documents, meaning his proof of COVID vaccination. Rejection. Rejection. What the hell was this? What is happening? Mine went through. The rules change daily, so who knows what this meant? The Delta rep told me he should be fine. The next Delta rep said he was out of the approved timeline of vaccination (it had been more than 9 months since he got vaccinated) and he had to get a booster. No problem. Boostered on Tuesday, upload the documents. Rejection. No Friday departure for him. He had to wait a week for it to “kick in.” Ah France, you sassy, bossy, random-rule-loving bitch. Our trip was one week, Friday to Friday. That meant he had two days in Paris if he left that Tuesday and arrived Wednesday. Non, non, non.
My first reaction was “tough shit, boo, I’m going to Paris solo” until I calmed down and saw the look of utter dejection on his face. My problem-solving brain went into high gear and I came up with a solution: I would leave on the original date, enjoy a few days in Paris alone (shop, walk and photograph the shit out of everything I saw, shop..you know the drill) and he would meet me Wednesday. We would extend the trip to Sunday, giving him four full days to immerse himself in all things Parisian. Delta graciously gave us our new itinerary and didn’t charge a thing. Oui! I booked a different accommodation for the two extra nights we’d be there, and we were all set. Paris was back on!
Am I There Yet? Am I There Yet?
The excitement for this trip was unlike much I can remember in the past few years. I’ve barely done international travel since my husband and I have been together (not for any great reason, we just love domestic travel, too) so I was chomping at the bit for this trip. I packed my carefully curated bags, left room for my future new wardrobe, and headed for the airport on that fateful Friday, departing from New Orleans to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Paris. My flight to Atlanta was a breeze, but when I landed, that’s when the real merde hit the fan.
Loading up with the Cattle
Mooooooooh! I Don’t Do Cattle…I Mean Main Cabin…or Do I?
I noticed that my seat had changed per my Delta app. That I was going to now be in the main cabin. Surely this was a mistake, as I paid for Premium Select. The joke, my friends, was on me. The overworked and intolerant gate agent simply printed out my new boarding pass without so much as an acknowledgement that I got a big fat downgrade. When I asked what the actual you-know-what is happening, he simply told me that the aircraft had changed and I would sit where I was now assigned, like it or not. Hmph. It’s 11-something pm and I’m utterly exhausted, and my only option is to get on this plane, likely seated next to the crazed lunatic who was running up to the desk waving his ticket and yelling. Or I could sleep in Atlanta and take another flight the next day. I was bent over the proverbial barrel, so I feverishly texted my friend these atrocities until she stopped texting back. Maybe she fell asleep, maybe she was sick of hearing me bitch about my sad, sappy story of going to Paris in the cattle cabin.
If There is a Crazy Person, I Will Be Seated by Said Kook
As the boarding began, I passively went through the gate and stood in line with my fellow sheep. At least I had landed an aisle seat. But guess who sat right next to me, across the aisle? The crazed lunatic who could not, under any circumstance, accept his new position of lowly main cabin and not in the Premium Select that he and his family were used to. The griping went on for so long and so intensely that the head cabin guy came over and told him to basically shut up or get off the plane. No one wanted to hear it anymore. He shut up, kind of. I explained to him that I also was downgraded, but I wanted to get to Paris more than I wanted to sit in Premium Select at this point, so his complaints were falling on deaf ears. The next eight hours were going to suck really badly, but I was 100% certain airing my grievances would not bump me up to the class I wanted to be in. Sometimes, shit just doesn’t go the way you planned. That’s life.
Am I Losing My Mind? Likely.
While the flight really did try my sanity and patience, I managed to get a little shut-eye, although it was by far one of the worst sleeps of my life. I say that, but I don’t actually know if that is a fact. It just felt like it was at the moment. There were moments I thought I was going to have a screaming outburst. Something like “WHEN THE F*** ARE WE GETTING THERE?? WHY DIDN’T I STAY IN ATLANTA? WHY DID I EVEN COME ON THIS INFERNAL TRIP ANYWAY? PARIS IS NOT THAT GREAT!” I kept it together, though. None of that came flying out of my mouth. And, after a long old flight and moments of insanity creeping in, I finally landed in Paris. It was like nothing unfortunate had ever happened. I was in my happy place.
Traveling abroad right now, in the wake of a pandemic, is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for people who will throw in the towel after things don’t go their way. We’re all in this shitshow together. And I’d rather be the ring leader than one of the characters. I’m proud I made the trip. I’m proud that I can roll with it - er, sort of, anyway, even when I think I’m going to outright lose my mind. Moments like these are so precious. This journey to get to Paris showed me more about what I’m made of. I’m made of a lot, but that perseverer in me shined through like a bright beam. You might even find me searching for flights to Paris - I’m ready for another round of the most magical city in the world. Au revoir, but not for long!