Thursday, March 14, 2013

Paris Perturbé

OH. MY. GOD. If anyone had ever suffered a more miserable day trip to Paris I  would be very surprised. Of course I was mildly excited, I love Paris, (who doesn't) and was looking forward to lunch someplace romantic on a pleasant spring day + getting my marriage paperwork + scenic train ride home with little to no complications.

Well. Ominously just before I arrive at the train station here in Dijon, I get a puzzling text from SNCF telling me that circulation is "fortement perturbé," and that I can exchange or cancel my ticket at the service desk. But, I've just arrived, I'm a bit late, and see on the information boards that my train is at the quai, à l'heure, and ready to leave. So I figure the SNCF people have gone insane and I jump on moments before the doors close and the train starts rolling. 

I text A to tell him how silly the SNCF people are and sit back happily.

As the train moves North, the warm sunlight of Spring turns from pleasant, to gray, to snow blizzard. Before I know it the train is stopped on the tracks in a sea of white, where we sit for the next two hours. I miss my embassy appointment and learn from the chatter around me that the Gare de Lyon is completely blocked by snow, no one is getting in or out, and I start fearing for how I'm going to get home in the evening. I havent eaten and I start thinking I might die. Also, I'm not dressed for snow. 

The train finally arrives in blizarding Paris at 2:30 in the afternoon, two and a half hours after my appointment. (I tried calling the embassy on the train but the operator kept disconnecting me or sending me to an answering machine.) I run down into the metro and catch the subway to rue Rivoli, just beside the gardens at the Louvre. I pop back up into the freezing snow blizzard and see the hazy, gray form of the Eiffel Tower peering through the white and for a moment feel a little burst of butterflies in my heart: I can never see that tower without remembering how in love I am with the city. The moment is short lived however, as I shield my eyes from the snow and skid across the slushy, busy intersections to the embassy. 

I get there and only one guichet is left open. I take a number and wait. After 20 minutes, the person abandons their post and I'm seemingly left alone in the American Embassy. A janitor eventually approaches me and asks what I'm doing. I tell him about my appointment and he tells me that everyone in notarial services is gone and that I'll have to come back another day. I muster my most miserable, helpless little girl face and tell him I don't live near Paris and can't come back. It seems to work and he takes pity on me and gets on the phone. Thank goodness, someone was still there for me and they met with me at one of the desks. Straight away they asked me if I had cash. I said no. Then they proceeded to tell me that they couldn't give me my marriage documents because the cashier had left and I couldn't pay with a credit card. I give her my miserable look I used earlier on the janitor. Again she takes pity on me and produces a map of the area. She draws a little path on it to an ATM, and tells me to hurry, because everyone was trying to leave.

Back out into the snow blizzard. I'll remind you here that I had bronchitis, was wearing spring clothes, and was running through a freezing wet blanket of white in a complete panic. Long story short, after stopping and asking several people in the streets,  I found the ATM, got back to the embassy in time, and got my paper work. By now it was time for my train home, so I turned on my heels and dashed directly back to the train station.. where all the trains were still delayed or canceled. Snow was falling in the station and I was freezing and still hadn't eaten. I took shelter in an expensive station cafe and made a hot chocolate last for the rest of the evening until finally, a train heading south appeared on the info board. I got home at 8 feeling victimized. Dieu merci, A had made me a bath and a cocktail. 

Sitting in the hot tub and sipping my drink, I thought, at least I'm marrying the right guy. 

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