Friday, October 02, 2009

The plane is hot. it is a 3 and 3 and we are sitting window, middle, aisle, aisle like we normally do on these kinds of planes. Boarding is a rush. Our family, squashed between men in suits making their way from Paris to Frankfurt on this Friday afternoon in October, seems misplaced in the priority boarding line. All four of us carrying more that the maximum weight in carry -on luggage but hoping that our smiling faces and daddy's mega-frequent-flyer status will get us through unnoticed.

The plane leaves on time. Our excessive carry-ons went undetected. We back up from the gate and roll uninterrupted to the runway, make a 90 degree turn and as my children amuse the other passengers with their countdown from 10, the engines go full throttle and we are off. After 14 years, SJ knows to drop his hand from his paper to grab mine as we lift off into the partly cloudy skies above Paris. The children ooohh and aaaahh over the birds-eye view of the city they have come to love. I, and likely SJ, have come to terms with our departure. He quietly releases my hand and goes back to his paper. I fetch my trusty notebook from my backpack and I write him a note. Torn from a spiral binding and folded in half, it reads,

It was more than I ever dreamed it would be.

Paris is magical. It will suck you in if you let it. Up until now I hadn't let it penetrate my soul like other cities have. But now, after 3 months, I have fallen prey to the charms of the city of lights. The sights and sounds of our city rest comfortably in my heart, I hope forever.

The people at SJ's office asked the whole family to come to the office yesterday for a casual farewell. We toasted with Veuve Cliquot. They gave us gifts. All of us. They gave the kids books in French and more French candy than 3 halloweens put together. And for me? The coveted cookbook from Laduree which is a testament to how well these strangers got to know ME. Me, the spouse. Their kindness and generosity has admittedly overwhelmed me. I thoroughly enjoy each and every one of them and would love the chance to know them better.

SJ has closed his eyes as he does on most flights. For all appearances this could be one of our usual domestic flights in the US. But it is not. It is a flight that is taking us far away from some place we have grown to cherish. A place we feel more at home than we do when we are at home. As sad as I am to leave, I can't help but acknowledge the tremendous feeling of gratitude that rests in my soul.

1 comment:

MJoyC said...

So beautiful! Hope the transition has been going well for you all.