Well. Here we are.
We were originally meant to fly home to Italy on August 27th, but then Hurricane Irene hit at just the right time, delaying our return. So unexcited was I to leave that it came as a relief when the airline had nothing for us until September, giving us more five days before the inevitable. Sometimes the only cure, the only solution, is time. And indeed, by September, I felt more ready.
Our flight, or should I say flights?, were eventful. Everything was overbooked and there were so very many people trying to get back to Europe after having been delayed for nearly a week due to the storm. We were offered Premium Economy and compensation if we’d volunteer to take the evening flight, and I accepted, having so much extra luggage that otherwise I would have had to pay for, and thinking that, the way things looked, we might not get on the afternoon flight anyway. But we did, somehow, and were seated in the nice Premium seats on the upper deck, only to be asked to leave the airplane a few minutes later because the seats had been claimed by someone else. I could have put up a fuss, but Air France had just bought my full cooperation for nine hundred euros in airfare credit and the checking of two extra pieces of luggage at no extra cost. We graciously got off the plane. But we’d already opened the bottles of complimentary mineral water, so we took those with us.
They had us wait just outside the gate for our new boarding passes and, somehow, something happened, and they asked us if we wanted to get back on the plane, but in economy. So we did, but on the lower deck this time, my only consolation being that if my two-year-old had a noisy breakdown halfway through the flight, I wouldn’t feel quite so bad about it in Economy. Also, we still had our nice water.
The boys slept, a few babies cried, it was a typical red eye flight, but we missed our connection in Paris. Air France put us on the next flight home and gave us breakfast vouchers for the French pastry shop in the terminal and a phone card to notify anyone concerned of the delay.
Our luggage, naturally, did not make it back with us, and not one of the five pieces we’d managed to check was there. But a nice man from the airport delivered it all the following afternoon and all’s well that ends well. I am glad to have the flight(s) behind us, but despite everything, I am very happy with my nine hundred euros, which will go to good use at Christmas time, and I don’t mind flying Air France again much at all. No airline is perfect, but the AF personnel handled everything with kindness and humor, two qualities I like best.
The boys were absolutely thrilled to see their father, and he was thrilled to see them. They each had a nice long nap and then immediately asked him to take them away for the weekend to be reunited with their cousins and Italian grandfather, meaning I had plenty of time to get a direly-needed haircut, meet some friends for drinks and dinner, pick up groceries, unpack and rest up for the busy week ahead.
It is not as awful as I thought it was going to be. That’s not to say it isn’t hard. This is, after all, the town where I met my husband. It holds a million memories. This is the house where we lived together for four years. It holds a million more. But I love this town, for many other reasons too, and I suspect it is already beginning to acquire another layer of memories as I begin another layer of my life.
And so while so much is new and daunting, so much is familiar and comforting. Today I walked down the road near our house and the deep, sweet smell of the uva fragola that grows in our neighbors’ garden was so pungent and wonderful. Still now, at home, I can muster up the unmistakable smell of those tiny, sweet grapes.
For now, I am taking things one day at a time, and making the most of these small, simple pleasures. As for the rest, I’m sticking with kindness and humor, and hoping they get me through this in one piece.