Upon my arrival…
Two months felt like a long time to spend apart as newly weds. We hadn’t even had a honeymoon after our wedding. I hadn’t seen my husband in person since we got married. Reuniting meant more than seeing each other again, it meant truly being a married couple for the first time.
Arriving at the airport, I knew that he would be there waiting for me, and I was so excited! Feeling a bit rushed to get off the plane to see him as quickly as possible, I stood in my window seat anxiously watching passengers around us disembark as the woman in the aisle seat took her time getting her belongings together. We had had some very pleasant conversations about her life as a Chicago school teacher, and her solo summer travels, but now that I was this close to seeing Romain, I wanted nothing more than to jump over her and run to baggage claim! Eventually she noticed my silent plea to exit the plane, and I was off like a rocket. Though I didn’t get very far.
Almost everything in France is a little smaller than in the US: the cars, the houses, the meal portions, the jugs of milk… And so it was with number of kiosks open at the Customs passport control. Several hundred people from about three different transatlantic flights were being herded together in a small waiting area to get through about 10 Customs kiosks. Most of us being non-European, we had access to only 6 of those 10 lines. The New Yorkers chose to create their own line that intercepted the long line I had joined, and essentially cut in front of a hundred people. And then a little Asian girl threw up. I don’t blame her. Those New Yorkers were so pushy! (JK, I love NY!)
After about 45 minutes of waiting in this line, it was my turn to talk to the customs officer. I silently slid my passport to him, expecting some sort of conversation about my visa – which allows family members to be reunited. He looked down at my passport photo. He looked up at my face to see that the two matched. He flipped to the page with my visa. He stamped. He slid the passport back to me. Done. No questions, no conversation. Relieved, and ever-so-slightly disappointed, I rushed away to collect my luggage.
The French are experts when it comes to space-efficiency. From land use and urban planning to home design and kitchen appliances. Everything takes up less space and works just as well (if not better) than our bulky American products. That said, I’m not sure the space efficiency of sending several hundred people from three flights to one single baggage claim machine was very effective. I think the correct term would be chaotic.
Nobody could move or see anything. Traveling abroad, most people had huge suitcases and often two or more. Arms grabbing, reaching, hauling. It was pandemonium.
Final entry to France
Seeing this, I retreated to the restrooms where I took a moment to change my clothes, brush my teeth, and otherwise prepare myself to see the love of my life for the first time in 8 weeks. It was much better than dealing with the stress at baggage claim.
One final border check, and I was on my way into Romain’s arms. There he was, on the right side of the group of people waiting, looking down, trying to text me I’m sure. I bee-lined my way to him, completely ignoring everyone and everything around me. Barely remembering to keep a protective hand on my three suitcases, we hugged for the longest time. Glued to his side, we finally moved out of the way and took a moment to just BE. What a luxury, to be able to hug one’s spouse!