Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Changing Planes

When you have to change planes at 2 a.m. in Montreal, there’s a shop where you can buy Néstle’s Crunch bars and cans of Coca-Cola with the labels all in French. You want to buy Néstle’s Crunch bars and cans of Coca-Cola, but you can’t because they cost Canadian dollars, and all you have are Israeli shekels, British pounds, Dutch guilders, and also American dollars. You can’t get Canadian dollars, because it’s 2 a.m. and all the currency exchanges are closed. You don’t want Canadian dollars; you want to get back to the States. You want your eight years of junior high-high school-college French to hold a lens up to the signs so your eyes can untangle the words you ought to understand, the words that tell you how to find your airplane. You want to see the long lines at border control in O’hare and realize that there is no line before the booth marked “U.S. Passports Only.” You want to see a regular American guy look at you only once before stamping your passport and saying, “Welcome home.” You don’t want to cry with relief when he says this, but you will.

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