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God Bless the French.

9 November 2012

Half an hour from Rome. Alitalia flight 333 from Paris. God damn the weather, and god bless the French. I should’ve been in repose, rested and along to see the Vatican by now. Instead I’m jousting at elbows, 30 minutes from elation and Mediterranean balm.

I charged through Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, that labyrinthine testament to galoise indifference to scheduling tautologies. Yet, I met an able, sympathetic immigration control officer, who waylaid me only as long as it took to pound a stamp into my passport and point me toward terminal F. There, the security line was short, and rapidly attended by competent, engaged staff. My poor, clipped French was graciously accepted and responded to in English. My bag was searched, my contraband diet cola binned (“it is forbidden”) and I sprinted thence to my gate, where my plane was just to begin boarding. All together, I spent less than 40 minutes, I think, from airlock to airlock.

I wasn’t supposed to see Paris on this trip. Not even a dusting of rubber on the Parisian Tarmac. But a brutal nor’easter, the second monstrous cataract of what promises to be a grim winter, blasted through New York City the same hour I was to fly through. I rerouted my itinerary, at the cost of four hours and $28, at literally the last minute, from STL-JFK-Rome to STL-Detroit-Paris-Rome. I was assisted by Delta airlines personnel who had little reason to be as helpful as they were. Ably. Promptly. Politely. Considering the last minute machinations, everything has gone as fluidly as anyone could ask. Certainly me.

I am free. I am fearless. If I drank, I would never have been able to negotiate a foreign airport with ease and confidence. I’d have done what I always did: arrive drunk and exhausted. Instead, I slept for four hours on the transatlantic leg. I am whole. Tired, but capable. Ready for the bright sun and black espresso of the Eternal City. Appropriate; according to my body, to my mind, I currently exist outside of time.

But I’ll break my elbow before I’ll surrender an inch of plastic to this rancid gourmand beside me.

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