To Paul: “It’s not there!”
“What’s not there?” he asked from the other side of the bed. Our room was tastefully decorated, but small by American standards.
“My God. Everything! My passport, my driver’s license, my credits cards, my medical card, my money.”
“What?” Are you sure? What were they in?”
“You know, the travel pouch that goes around my neck.”
“It wasn’t around your neck?”
“NO! I put it in my shoulder bag so I would look a little more chic, like the French women.”
“Let me look in the bag,” Paul said practically.
I knew it wasn’t there. I knew the second I noticed the bag’s lightness that it was GONE FOREVER, the proof of all my identity along with it.
As Paul foraged through my bag and found nothing resembling my travel pouch, his face began to look like a haunted man.
Consequences, I knew, were dashing into his brain, as they had been seconds before in mine.
Today was Saturday, July 2nd. It was towards the end of the day. We had one more day and night in Paris; a Sunday when nothing in the way of banks, or embassies are open. Monday, the day we were scheduled to leave for Oslo, was July 4th, an American holiday. The chances of the American Embassy being open on July 4th didn’t seem very promising.
I mustered what little pride I had and went downstairs to the exquisitely decorated but minute hotel lobby to seek help. I tried my French on the concierge, but she immediately switched to her proficient English.
I told her what had happened and she told me a supportive story about how her iPhone was stolen right out of her bag on the métro. Then she gave me her seat in her little office off to the side of the petite lobby to research the numbers for cancelling my credit cards and helped me do it.
I went back upstairs feeling a bit better–I had at least done SOMETHING–only to find Paul’s sitting on the bed, all of our travel arrangements laid out in front of him. He looked up at me with skin taught over his cheekbones and wild eyes.
Nothing seemed very romantic at this moment in time, even with French wine and Perrier in the little fridge, a crusty fresh baguette, camembert, and a private flowered terrace to sip and eat in.
“There’s just no way we are going to be able TO GET OUT OF Paris in time TO GET OUR FLIGHT OUT OF Oslo TO MAKE OUR CONNECTION TO Kirkenes,” (the very north of Norway, where we were going to begin our very expensive much anticipated trip on the Norwegian Coastal voyage). “Unless you can get an emergency passport on Monday.”
American Express having already told me when I was on the phone with them downstairs that the American Embassy in Paris was closed on July 4th, and therefore would not be able to offer an emergency passport, I was ready to admit DEFEAT and go drink a little wine.
“What the hell can we do?” Paul said desperately.
I had no idea what we could do, but I hated to see my husband so upset. “I can call Lillebeth (my cousin) in Oslo,” I suggested.
One big difference between my husband and me is when in trouble he always tries to figure things out himself; I always ask for help–almost from the start. I’ve learned over time that both strategies have their advantages.
With no other obvious alternative, we squeezed into the little elevator, pushed the button and downstairs we went to the efficient concierge.