Naked in Paris

It felt like a #11 bowling ball in the pit of my stomach rivaled only by the rising burning in the middle of my chest as the final piece of luggage catapulted out of the mouth of the luggage cave in the Paris airport. Alas, my favorite leopard print bag was not among those bags that could be counted as present. I had a sinking feeling I was in trouble when the carefully taped cardboard boxes began their slow funeral parade march around the carousel. It dawned on me that even though my flight was a straight thru-non-stop less than 2 hr flight my bag was possibly floating aimlessly somewhere in the baggage vacuum between Venice, Italy and Paris, France.

Could it be that I was in Paris-the haute couture of Europe without even a clean pair of unmentionables to my name dressed in my conservative skirt, ruffled blouse and my “travel” sweater not to mention my platform sandals? I must admit that I thought I looked rather impressive 5 hrs. prior but at that moment — the furrow between my eyes was beginning to deepen.

I collected my wits about myself and like a contortionist twisted my neck to have just one more look into the luggage hole and finally doggedly accepted that my luggage definitely wasn’t on my flight. It dawned on me that “bonjour” was the extent of my French and luckily the baggage service representative was better versed in English. Twice my daughter was sent back by the representative to check the gapping luggage hole to look for the missing bag and the answer remained the same-no bag for Mom.

I was given a phone number to call baggage services from my hotel daily which became my morning ritual. “Have you located my bag #….. and each morning the answer was the same “No”. There is something so impersonal about being issued “a number”. Somewhere deep down I felt that number meant I would never see my clothes again. It almost crushed me when I remembered my new designer purse was packed in my bag. I had watched the purse’s price like a hawk go down down for the past six months and then I swooped down upon it and snatched it up at a fraction of its regular price.

I never received my luggage while in Paris and when I returned to Venice I learned that they had just sent my bag to Paris that very day! I did finally receive my beloved bag two days after I arrived back home after having an absolutely amazing time in an amazing city. I did learn some very valuable “take-away lessons” from that trip: Always pack at least one day’s clothing in your carry-on-including unmentionables; always buy small bottles of cosmetics to carry also in your carry on; always weigh your options and really consider if money saved on a low budget airlines is worth it (did I tell you that my return trip was canceled as I stood in line to check in)? And most importantly don’t scream at your 17-yr old daughter too much – you never know when you may be forced to wear some of her clothes for 3 days!