Where to start!
I’m laying in a bed in Eteimbes, France, exhausted to the point of cracked-out travel insomnia. I woke up yesterday morning at 4AM, roused by the cruel whip of the ubiquitous iPhone marimba alarm ringtone. After a sentimental goodbye, Jane dropped me off at Seattle Airport. And thusly my trip began.
A quick jaunt to San Francisco and I had joined up with my sister and my father, whose life dream was the catalyst for this entire trip. Around thirteen years ago, my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and had a tumor the size of a football removed from his side. To keep himself busy while he recovered his strength from the operation, he dove into genealogy. Piecing together tidbits passed down through the family along with copious amounts of newly-available Internet research, my dad tracked down the roots of our family to a small farming village in Alsace-Lorraine called Eteimbes. Moreover, we still have living relatives there (who I am *fourth* cousins with). To make a long story short, we made contact and over the years the bond have grown stronger.
Flash-forward back to yesterday. While I was very excited for the trip, I was not so excited for the flight aspect of it. My dad is a really big person and doesn’t walk too well these days, and I was worried about how he– and I!– would fare after being crammed into tight economy class seats for a bajillion hour flight together. Not to mention, the difficulties in getting between terminals and boarding/disembarking planes with a wheelchair.
I’m here to tell you that having the words “wheelchair assistance requested” on your boarding pass is like having a badge that says you are Bono, Batman and Sting all rolled into one. We cut right to the front of every line, including security. Airport personnel escorted us between gates using weird forsaken tunnels and hidden lifts. It was pure, unadulterated rock star status.
So much so that when a family didn’t show up for their flight and there was suddenly an entire empty “family row” that had extra leg room, the stewardess hooked us up. Sure, we had baby bassinet brackets mounted on the wall in front of us, but it was the spatial equivalent of an upgrade to first class.
Air France rocks. Everyone was very helpful, the meals were surprisingly edible (and included Kozy Shack pudding!) and they gave out free red wine with dinner. Being stuck on a plane for 12 hours was still pretty draining, but we were all very relieved at how pleasant the experience was as well.
And so we travelled, crossing timezones faster than a DeLorean headed to 2015. Day 2 to follow…