The Great Schlep

Griffin  Hadden


This has been, perhaps, the most practical Christmas I’ve ever had. I’m sure it’s just another sign of getting older, but every year I seem to ask for and receive gifts that are a little less fun and a little more functional. I’m not complaining. Life is expensive, and it takes a lot of concentrated will power to go out and buy yourself a colander when all you really want is a full sized replica of the Triwizard Cup from Harry Potter. Yes, I’ve had to put whimsy on the backburner—this year in particular. For Christmas 2015 I received two suitcases; a secure, under the clothes money pouch; a pocket-sized French to English dictionary; a travel journal; a pair of luggage locks; a sleepsack for hostels; and a European outlet adapter.

I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, this girl must have a lot of birds.” Wrong! What would give you that idea? What’s really going on is that in just six short days I will be boarding a plane to France. Well, I’ll be boarding a plane to San Francisco, then to Munich, and then to Lyon, where I will take a shuttle to Grenoble. Yes, I am gearing up for what everyone has assured me will be the experience of a lifetime: a six month study abroad in Grenoble, France.

For the past few months, the prospect of this voyage has felt like a distant relative. Oh, I know she exists, and I’ve heard all about her, but we’ve never actually met. She doesn’t quite feel real yet. Now though, she’s on her way. She’ll be here soon and we’d better prepare the guest room. Fluff the pillows, clean the bathroom, pull out the leaf in the table. We don’t know what to expect from her, but we know she’ll be different. This analogy is getting away from me, but you get the idea. France is looming before me, hexagonal and mysterious, and all I can do is power through my travelling anxiety. It’s not the prospect of going somewhere new that stresses me out; it’s getting there. I’m being bombarded by a bounty of belligerent budding blunders. What if I miss my flight because I incorrectly set my alarm? (This has happened to me more than once). What if my first flight is delayed and I miss my second? What if in my haste I accidentally pack a switch blade in my carry on? What if they lose my luggage? What if they sit me in between a baby and a judgmental old person? Myriad misgivings. I am not a happy traveler. Whatever happens, as long as I get to France, I’ll consider it a success.

Now I have to return to my two suitcases, simultaneously worrying that I have too much and too little, while convincing myself that I am not woefully ill-prepared.

Until next time,



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