As I stood early yesterday morning in the long Air Canada line at CDG airport, inching toward the machines that issue boarding passes and bag tags, I kept hearing a garbled announcement in French and fractured English, asking someone to
please “pick up the white suitcase left at …” And I thought, please, whoever
you are, pick it up.
erupted; police had decided the white bag was dangerous, and this entire
section of the airport was to be cleared instantly. Pandemonium – police in
camouflage holding machine guns shouting at us to move out, move to Exit 6;
bewildered travellers, reluctant to give up a hard-won place in line, shuffling
off. Giant crowds jamming the hall, bags everywhere. No, this can’t be happening! I thought. A soldier was shoving us along when I broke away and dashed to one of the deserted machines; trembling, I
entered my info – had checked in last night on-line, luckily, though unable to print a
boarding pass – and while the soldier clutching his gun muttered impatiently behind me, I got my
boarding pass and bag tag and, greatly relieved, joined the multitudes outside.
warn my brother that I’d be landing much later. He’d sent a brief email that morning – Mum’s still pretty bad, call when you get in. I decided to ask Lynn, still at the apartment in Paris, to phone Canada for me, and, glad that the cell phone I’ve carried with me all over Europe and
hardly used finally had such an important job, I I entered her number. A notice came up: you have no money left in your account.
out how to put more money into my French cell phone account – only, eventually,
to be told, “Now enter the 16 digit number associated with your account.” Said
number at the bottom of my suitcase. Finally, I asked a Frenchwoman I’d been chatting with if I could use her phone briefly, and was
able to leave a message for my friend.
hours before they sort out this lot, I thought, making my way easily through
customs and security, and began to wander around near the gate. I was flipping through magazines when an announcement came
over the P.A.: “Would passenger Elizabeth Kaplan please come to Gate 351.”
Yowza! They had put everyone through in extraordinarily speedy fashion, and the full bus was waiting for me. Luckily, there was a guy whose
passport they thought was fake; he was ten minutes later than I.
because of the security scare, but once airborne, an hour and a half late, it was a smooth trip. I watched “My week with Marilyn,” “A Dangerous Method,” and “Being
Elmo,” a documentary about the puppeteer who created Elmo for “Sesame Street,” a lovely film, very moving. The Marilyn film was really good, and the Freud/Jung split explored in “Method” interesting
to someone who’s been through psychoanalysis, as have I, though the movie was a bit gothic in bits. Watching films – such a great way to pass a very long plane ride. Keeps a big airbus like that very quiet. And then of course there’s the delicious food.
Went home to deal with: bills, income tax, a leaky roof, the furnace, laundry, a new tenant, cleaning the suite, upcoming courses, many calls, and getting a plane ticket for first thing tomorrow and a rental car in Ottawa.
And, now, unbelievably, I have to pack again.
But I did have my rue Mouffetard croissant for breakfast this morning, with friend Patsy’s blackberry jam made from Gabriola Island berries. A classic meeting of two great cultures.