Frehel Diaries: Going to Meet a French Lover and Other Unrealized Works by Franz Kafka
“I had no liking for the safe path without pitfalls...” St Augustine’s Confessions

Suddenly and without warning the day of departure was upon me and I was measuring my time in the US in hours and then in minutes. While I finally packed everything I could imagine I needed, there was still the problem of what to wear on the plane. Normally I would wear something easy and comfortable for a seven hour plane ride, but traveling to meet a French lover I have to balance out comfortable enough for a 7 hour plane ride with still sexy enough to inspire a man to rip it off with his teeth.

Luckily, I studied costume design in college. I selected a black scoop neck tunic top, a black lace bra, jeans, black satin panties with a rhinestone cat on the front.

As my mother once said to me, "You know how to travel." And it's a good thing that I do because I was about to encounter Murphy's Law full force.

The car service I reserved screwed up and thought I made my reservation for the following week. As soon as I discovered this problem, I also realized I had miscalculated what time I had to be at the airport because AirFrance, like France itself, runs on military time and in my brain addled brillance I had the hour of departure wrong. So I had an hour, not two, to get to the airport and check in.

I ran out and hailed a cab and schlepped the two suitcases into it. I made it to JFK with about 20 minutes to spare, but then had problems checking it (it was the computers, not me). Finally I was checked in and waiting, when the flight was delayed for two hours. Now I had nightmares about the Sauvage not being at the airport, thinking I wasn't coming. I mean I had been sure to give him all the flight information, but being French he didn't strike me as the type to, you know, check on flight status before leaving for the airport. And sure, I had his phone number, but that didn't mean that I knew how to explain to him where I am in the airport or that I could understand his response. Assuming that he even picked up the phone.

And by the time they let me on the plane, I had seven hours to obsess about all of this uninterrupted.

As I got closer and closer to Paris, my fear increased more and more. Would he be there waiting as he promised? I mean even without the flight delay, I was taking a Hell of a chance on a guy I didn't really know.

When you get off the plane at Charles de Gaulle, it's like walking into a Jacques Tati film. While the minute a plane lands at JFK there is a cacophony of cellphones and PDAs, at Charles de Gaulle, there is silence. No chatter among passengers. No ringtones. Just the absence of sound. Echoing. It's eerie. Kind of like landing and finding yourself in a reproduction of La Jetee.

I quickly made it through passport control and picked up my luggage and made my way to the International Passenger Pick-Up Point. And he....

wasn't there. HE WAS NOT THERE.

It was the realization of my greatest nightmare. I had traveled over the ocean to be stood up. I looked around. There weren't many people around. I decided to keep walking. The pick up area wasn't that big. It's not like he could be easily missed. I could feel my heartbeat in every part of my body. My eyelids throbbed with anxiety. What was I going to do in Paris for two weeks? Alone, heartbroken, hating myself for trusting...for believing...

Hands over my eyes.

If you hold a bird in your hand, you can feel its heartbeat. I’m sure he felt my heartbeat thumping through my eyelids.

I turned, and it was him. I was saved. And I thought, again, the hard part of the trip was over. I didn’t realize that the entire trip was going to be like this--nothing predictable, nothing foreseen. I had unknowingly booked my vacation to a very swiftly tilting planet.

He tried to explain to me something about his car. I thought he was telling me that it broken down. He asked several people for directions somewhere. We got on the little Charles de Gaulle "train" and got off at stop. We walked outside, and I found myself in the middle of a huge parking lot with a building. "You wait for me here" he said in French.

And so I stood there, not knowing where I was, with my luggage.Standing there waiting for him tricked every nerve in my body. I have an abandonment complex, and standing there waiting I became convinced that he might not come back with every minute that passed. A man walked by and saw me. "Are you lost?" he asked. Of course, in a way I was totally lost, and I'm sure I looked lost-a little girl standing in the middle of a parking lot with bags. "Oh no I'm waiting for a friend." I said. "You're sure not lost?" I wasn't, I wasn't sure of anything but I said I was fine.

The Sauvage returned, and we went to another building. By now I understood the car hadn't broken down. He had parked illegally, and it been towed. I sat waiting for him while he went into a little room. Eventually he came back and fetched me. The car wasn't far away.

We got in the car, and he began to drive. In what I could only call the Queens of Paris, I noticed that tents set up on the hillside. "What is that?" I asked. "Oh," he responded, "It's the Polish...the Czechs" and then embarked upon a list involving almost every Eastern Block country. Why would these people come here to camp out on the hillsides outside of Paris? I mean one doesn't come to Paris to commune with nature.

He had to get back to work, and so he dropped me off at his apartment. After dragging up the luggage and making sure I was comfortable, he said he would return soon. I walked around taking pictures. I even managed to fire up his computer and struggle with his French keyboard a bit before I finally collapsed in his bed, to tired to even shower.

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