In my last blog I left you with a number of questions regarding the outcome of my online romance,
they were hardly the most difficult of questions if you had been reading my blogs.
We had arranged to meet at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, I was going to be waiting at the exit from the customs hall when she came out, having travelled overnight from the West Coast of the U.S.
The flight arrival time was 9:30am so my first dilemma was did I travel the 7 hours from South West France overnight or go the day before and get an hotel room. I decided on the later not that it mattered as there is no good time to cross Paris on the last weekend of July.
The journey there was a mixture of excitement and fear with a healthy dose of planning for all eventuality, from what do I say, what do I do if the look of disappointment is obvious, what if she doesn't turn up!
Having taken 3 hours to cross Paris I checked in to my airport hotel, time for a Recce, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail", came flooding back to me from my training days. I felt like the old days at work, checking car parking, exits and arrival information. I was not going to miss her at the airport if she turned up.
A sleepless night ensued and I was up showered and packed way before I needed too. I arrived at the airport early, grabbed a coffee and took up position with line of sight to both the arrivals board and the sliding glass exit doors. I was only a couple of hours early............
I passed the time people watching, airports are great for that and I hadn't been to a big international airport for some time.
Little did I realise that the next year I would be spending large amounts of time in airports.
I don't think that my eyes wandered of the flight arrivals board for more that a few seconds as time stood still. As airports go Charles de Gaulle is pretty crappy and to sit there in a state of uncertainty is not something I would recommend.
My neck was starting to ache as I was alternatively looking from the board to my watch, surely time had stood still.
The magic word, "Landed", clicked over followed by "Débarquement". Time to get ready.
There is no chivalry in love and war as I pushed my way to the front of the barrier that guards the exit doors, scattering men, women and children. I'm on a mission the prime position is mine by right so move over people.
Each time the door opened the crowed including me strained forward to catch a glimpse of the people we were meeting.
My first sight was this attractive head of blond hair just about visible above a cart with what appeared to be at least six suitcases. Hey, this girl doesn't travel light. Is it her? I think so but she is with another woman. She has brought a chaperon with her!
Yes that is her, both our natural instinct was to hug each other, from sheer relief I suspect.
The chaperon was in fact the person who had occupied the next seat and they had hit it off. So much so that the lady suggested that she accompany her to check out if I had turned up and if so did I have two heads.
In truth it was a wonderful first meeting. I think our joy of meeting each other in the flesh turned into embarrassment as both of us had decided to play it cool and there we were hugging each other.
Having been introduced to her travel companion and said our goodbyes to her we proceeded to the car. How long will it take us was the question, minimising it as best I could I glibly stated about six hours.
Off we set straight into the Paris traffic jam from Hell!
People in the north of Europe were changing places with those in the south, Paris was grid locked, nobody was going very far fast.
My estimate of 6 hours was turned into 12 hours. To spend that long in a tin box with someone was unintentionally a great way to get to know that person, though it could have been a deal breaker.
We had such a good report, I wish I could say that the journey flew by but sadly it didn't. She was most understanding however it didn't stop me wishing we had taken the plane.
Things could only get better and they did. During our Skype sessions we had talked about drinking Kir Royal, (Champagne & Cassies) on the terrace if she came to visit. I had prepared everything before leaving for Paris, despite the horrendous journey and her jet lag there we were sharing a long talked of moment. For me a very romantic moment, champagne, stars and a beautiful woman.
I don't think I knew how much my life was about to change, it would not be the same again.
More of that in the blogs to follow.