Home again, home again. I have to admit, as wonderful as France was and as much as I miss the hazy, no-care existence we had there for a while, I am happy to be back in New York. In a way, the time in Avignon was so delicious because it was finite and the “real world” – i.e. the world of errands and appointments and checklists – was held momentarily at bay while we just . . . breathed a little slower for a couple months. But by the end, I just missed home. Our bed. Our shower. Our friends. Pizza.
We did a lot of “lasts” in the final week that made me fall in love with Avignon all over again: wandering through the Lambert collection, eating a fantastic meal at L’Epicerie, getting in two more picnics on the Rhone. During my shower on the final day in our apartment, I was even getting teary eyed, cloyingly sentimental over the plastic bottle of baby shampoo we were leaving behind, oh happy days of yore, I began sorrowfully, not one to miss an opportunity for pathos, whence we bathed our small baby in this very shower, when DK came into the bathroom.
“I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?” I asked, a touch annoyed at the interruption of my reverie.
“I can’t find our passports.”
Cue halting screech to my misty-colored memories. The baby shampoo bottle? A piece of white plastic I never wanted to see again. To say we ransacked the place is putting it mildly. We called the last places we could remember having the passports weeks before: the hotel, the car rental place. Nada. We talked through all the possible scenarios and our memories of that week (aside: wow, is memory a funny, faulty thing. I must have “remembered” three events with startling clarity that I later realized couldn’t possibly have happened. Power of suggestion, baby, yoozahs.) Finally, after several rounds of orbiting the apartment, fruitlessly sticking our hands in every pocket in every bag, suitcase, purse, toiletries kit, jacket, zippered compartment and opening every drawer, patting every surface, eyeballing shelves – we cried Uncle. I optimistically made a list: (1) call consulate in Marseilles re: new passports; (2) change flight; (3) change hotel reservation. “Ha, ha!” said Fate, “you think it’s going to be that easy?”
Unfortunate Circumstance 1: Our sad discovery of the missing passports came on a Saturday. Our flight was supposed to leave at 6:30 am on the coming Monday. Notably, that particular Monday was also a national holiday in France. Meaning, the consulate was closed until Tuesday.
Unfortunate Circumstance 2: In a moment of parsimony back in February, we booked our flights to France on Jet Airways, India’s top airline. To be fair, the flight from NYC was perfectly fine. However, trying to accomplish a fairly mundane task like changing our flight home was nearly impossible. DK was on the phone for an hour with them and these were snippets of the conversation:
“Yes, I’ll hold."
“No, ma’am, no, you don’t seem to understand me: it is not a choice, we cannot get on the plane on Monday, our passports have been stolen. No passports. No. Passports. [pause] Yes, I’ll hold."
“Wait, how much to change? Six hundred dollars?”
“Fine, ok, we don’t really have a choice, so please make the change. Tell me when you’re ready for my credit card number. What? What do you mean you don’t take credit cards over the phone. [pause] Excuse me? No, I don’t have a family member in New York who will drive on a Saturday to JFK to go to the Jet Airways counter to pay six hundred dollars on my behalf. [pause] That is not a reasonable suggestion. [pause] Are you kidding?”
“You can only accept a fax of an authorization form with my credit card information on it? Can I email a pdf of the form to you? Why not? But the form has an email address on it. Okay . . . only by fax. Ma’am, I’m sorry, but do you realize that no one actually uses a fax machine anymore?”
Yes, I’ll hold.”
And thus we found ourselves walking around Avignon during a holiday weekend looking for a fax machine on which to send DK’s credit card information so we could change our flight. Of course, the only one we found was in a very sketchy “internet café” with an even sketchier looking dude behind the counter – all that was missing was a flashing red “IDENTITY THEFT HERE” sign above the door. We looked at each other – “NO NO NO,” I signaled with my eyes. “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE,” DK told me with his. In the end, DK took a photo of the signed form with his iphone, emailed it to me, converted the file into a pdf, I emailed it to my law firm’s 24-hour support center who sent it to the LA office’s copy center, where a very nice guy named Raymond faxed it for me and sent me a PDF of the fax receipt. In other words, oh my fucking god.
Unfortunate Circumstance 3: Because our flight was so early on Monday morning, we had arranged to stay in a hotel near Marseilles airport Saturday and Sunday night (thinking we could do a little sight-seeing on Sunday). When I called to change the reservations by two days, the receptionist told me that I would be charged for the original reservation AND for the new reservation. I explained the situation again. He explained the charge again. I explained the situation again in slightly more strident terms. He weakly explained he needed to get authorization to make that change without a charge, but his manager wasn’t answering her telephone or responding to his emails. “It’s a holiday weekend,” he explained.
Anyway, by the time everything got worked out, I wanted nothing more than to get back to the US and kiss its customer-service-oriented ground.
It is good to be back. Day one: Ordered pizza. Day two: Luke’s lobster roll. Day three: Shake Shack. Day four: hot dog at a farmer’s market. God bless America!
In other news, DK is in San Francisco giving a lecture this week and I am thus a solo parent for FIVE DAYS. It’s been ok, considering, but the girly has decided I must be in her sight at all times or the screamy screams of screamy land erupt. Luckily, she is very cute.