It was the same weather on both ends. When I left Dallas on Mother’s day there were tornados circling us like a pack of wild dogs. At least for the morning hours… which was enough to throw the whole airport into utter chaos. I was lucky enough to get a direct flight from Dallas to Paris instead trying catch a connecting flight through Chicago as originally planned.
“If you don’t find your bag when you get to Paris, file a complaint first thing, okay? I can’t guarantee where this thing will end up.” The stewardess at the counter told me.
True to her word when I got to the baggage claim area I heard my name being called over the loud speaker. A few no-problem-at-all’s and I-thought-this-might-happen’s and some paperwork and I was out of there.
So the first two days in Paris were spent in sweatpants. Not that I care that much but they get old after awhile. And in Paris no less. Not where you want your inner redneck to shine.
“Madame Dowsett, your bag is here, we are delivering it to you in a few hours,” my new friend Lucie from CDG airport told me.
Many more than a few hours later the delivery guy shows up with a huge smile on his face. An internal frown washed over me when I realized that no, sorry, that is not my bag. He tried to convince me that it was my bag, and when that failed he proceeded to hit on me. Great.
Several more days and phone calls later when I was about to leave Angers, France (1.5 hours train ride from Paris) after visiting friends there – I get news that somehow my bag is in the town of Le Mans. A town that our train would be passing through.
And then I found out that our train did not actually stop there.
Glorious theatrical feats ran through my head as I pictured the perfect timing of someone throwing the bag from the platform while the train was moving as the whole station cheered in excitement and awe that my bag was finally back in my loving arms.
The reality was that the train slowed to an overly dramatic crawl as we passed through Le Mans and I was forced to stare longing out the window, knowing that my bag was out there, somewhere, all alone and possibly lost forever.
The next plan of action was to send the bag to Nairobi. I knew this sounded like a horrible idea, but there were no other options now. I wrote down my address and how to get to my address (ie: go to that one bank next to that one market in that one part of town and take your first right). I also resigned myself to never seeing my clothes or cherished items again.
You see the problem is not that my clothes were missing really. Or that my suitcase was gone. The problem is that when you only have one bag of clothes in the world, you realize just how specialized your life has become. I have spent the last three years whittling down my life to fit in one such bag. All the necessities for me to live anywhere in the world well are in that bag. And to recreate what’s inside that bag might also take years.
When I reached Nairobi I soberly walked through customs. No one even batted an eye at me.
“This girl has a backpack and a messenger bag. She has nothing to declare.” They thought.
But for the next two weeks I declared almost daily how much I missed my clothes and my ice pack and my belt and my sandals and my purse. Declarations galore. Much to the patience of my roommates ears.
The saga continued every two days for two weeks when the baggage claim guys in Paris would email or call and say my bag was on the next flight to Nairobi. Out to the airport I would truck, sign all the paperwork, hand search through lost luggage, only to confirm that again, it was not there. Call Paris back. Oops, sorry, your bag got kicked off the flight. At one point the bag was lost completely but found again three days later in Amsterdam.
I started having dreams of blasting social media with me and my suitcase. “Last seen on mothers day” with this endearing picture of us together. A lost puppy, a lost suitcase.
Now we come to last night. A surprise phone call from the airport at JKIA in Nairobi saying that my bag was found. Three hours of driving to the airport. Ten minutes searching for it. And at last. We were reunited. I will not lie that I almost started crying. Peace.
The final round of comic relief found us outside the terminal when it started raining. I was waiting for my friend to circle around and pick us up when the skies opened up and drenched us.
I stared blankly at the bag, blinked and then chuckled to myself.
After three weeks of separation, it’s so sweet to wear my own jeans again. I do not take this victory lightly.