And so it begins! Here I am, sitting in the Orly airport, hungry and needing to use the restroom. It’s 11:00 am here and I cannot check my bags until 2:25 because that is two hours prior to my flight to Limoges. I need to use the restroom and I am staring at these sandwiches that look so good (probably because I am really hungry) but I am afraid to walk the five steps there for fear of having all my luggage stolen. Yeah, right… No person in their right mind would take all 120 pounds (roughly, although it is probably more) away. I already plan on shipping half my stuff home before I leave. There are silver carts everywhere so those are a major, major help!
About my flight…I left Tulsa where my mom began to cry (which I expected) and I tried not to be sad, but then my cold-hearted sister even cried so that got me a bit going. Jason, of course being the man that he is, didn’t shed a tear. I went on through security and was on my way. My flight to Houston was in a teeny tiny plane. If you were over 5’10", you would have been in trouble. The poor guy in front of me was crouching the entire time. I was in a seat by myself (they had one seat to the left and two to the right of the aisle) so I passed right out. That flight was quick! Then, just as my luck would have it, my terminal for my flight to Paris was at the other end of the Houston airport. Someone said the farthest gate was E1, and I was E2. Whoo hoo! I hopped on the "Terminalink" which took me to gate E, then I had to proceed forever and five days to find my gate. I enjoyed my last bit of American life with some football that was on TV and Wal-Mart trail mix! Yummy! We boarded our plane for Houston and I had seat 39A, so I was a window and there was one person next to me. It took forever for him to get on so for awhile there I thought I was going to be sitting alone. Never fear, a 15 year-old boy from Seattle who is a professional dancer in Paris at some school that has been around forever sat on down. At first I thought it was going to the most awkward flight because I didn’t know how to start conversation because I wasn’t sure if he spoke English or French, and I was by no means ready to initiate a conversation in French! Luckily he was American and we talked about what each of us was doing there and the like. It turns out he has been dancing since he was eight, starting going to schools in D.C. at 11, and then is in his first year at this school in Paris. His brother is a professional dancer in Germany and he hopes to become one, too, eventually. He told me all about the good and bad of French life; food portions, expensive and cheap cheeses, places to go, French verb conjugation books, and even how much a pair of Levi Jeans costs….90-120 euro! Can you believe that? We can get Levi’s for like $30, and they are $100+ over here! I am so taking a picture of that price tag when I see it! Sadly, I never got his name, so I will just call him "dancer boy". I watched the first half of the movie "Easy A" prior to dinner and then I enjoyed my "fabulous" meal of chicken, rice and green beans, Caesar salad, and hard-as-a-rock bread that I didn’t eat, but randomly good Milano cookies! There was about five and a half hours left of my flight so I decided it would be perfect to go to sleep. Naturally, I couldn’t. I slept for about forty minutes, and then woke right up. I had this terrible headache but of course, I packed my Excedrin in my checked baggage. Note to self: Pack melatonin and Excedrin in your backpack so you can go without a headache and SLEEP! I decided to finish the second half of "Easy A" and then attempt to fall asleep to Continental Airlines "Kids Hits" which played a Jonas Brothers song every other song. It was right up my alley J I fell in and out of sleep for the next couple hours, but I for sure woke right up with an hour and five minutes left of the flight. I really needed to use the restroom but my dancer boy next to me was fast asleep, and I didn’t quite know how to be polite and wake him, so I waited, hoping he would wake up, and of course he never did…until the plane landed. Joy. I got off and then headed to find my way out of Charles de Gaulle airport, calling my mommy, getting my luggage, and praying to find the bus to Orly. I did it all! Yay! I only missed one piece of my luggage once before I realized the luggage moving thing went on for another block before coming back around. Oh well, no rush for me. I then headed to the bus, gate 18, bus number 3 for 19 euros that took me to Orly….after making six other stops picking up other people for the same place. After thirty minutes of doing that, I was in fear of getting in a car-bus wreck because the peeps here drive crazy! It was nuts. The lanes are small and people just cut in and out and then randomly break. For a minute there I thought my mom was driving in front of me…Just kidding. After about forty minutes I realized I needed to use the restroom but sadly there was none. My small bladder does not do well on this trip. Note to self: Get the medicine for over-active bladder for the next trip. ;) I waited patiently for the bus to arrive at Orly-Sud, while checking out the buildings of North Paris and telling myself I needed to visit Disneyland Paris. Sounds like fun, huh? I made it off and then couldn’t find a silver buggy so I only dropped my luggage and looked like a total American for a total of ten minutes. No big deal, who do I know here anyway?
So that leads me to where I am now: sitting at Columbus Café, in front of gate C, eyeing the signs for the restrooms and watching my clock slowly tick on to 2:25. This is so different and I honestly cannot believe I am really doing this. I don’t think I know what I am in for. Seriously. It’s not that I am scared; it’s just that I am so out of my element right now, and feel that I am so inadequate with my French. It’s like my entire mind went blank and the only thing I can say is "merci". I guess that’s good enough. I know it is going to take time to adjust and I know I will love it, but I think it just hit me that I am here alone. When I was waiting for my baggage, there was no one to talk to, and it hit me that it was my first time doing this and I told myself I was crazy! I know I will be fine, but the stress of trying to get it all right quickly and making sure I make my flights made me doubt myself. I can do this, I will do this, and I will love it. Once I am well rested, in Limoges, and not with all my freaking luggage, I will be perfect. Like my Aunt Sherre told me, the world is at my fingertips, and I am ready to grab it with both my hands.