You know the state airlines are in these days. After limiting meal service, plane improvements, the weight of your checked baggage, and how many total words you’re allowed to say to the stewardesses, they’ve recently initiated fees for checking a second suitcase. Anyone planning on carrying two well-packed suitcases and a live rabbit can plan on spending $125 or more, in addition to the cost of their ticket, at check-in. I know you’ve all been wondering whether or not to bring your rabbit on your next flight. I suggest you mail the little bugger instead.
I don’t think European airlines were particularly hurt by Sept. 11, but they’ve certainly taken their cue from American cutbacks, restricting luggage to what a hamster could lift with one paw. Taking a low cost flight from Toronto to Paris, I was told by the Montrealian call center assistant that they didn’t mind if I checked two suitcases, as long as the total weight wasn’t more than 20kg. How many pounds is 20 kilograms?
About forty. Even less than the 50 pound restriction placed on American luggage. Now, I don’t know about you, but moving to another country for a year usually leads me to pack more than an overnight bag. Maybe I’m high-maintenance, but I just don’t think one should leave home, family and friends without at least 46, maybe even 48 kilos of personal stuff.
Not only are clothes and a small supply of personal toiletries necessary. One needs (if by “one” we mean “me,” and we do) a dozen pair of shoes, sixty DVDs, a laptop, several paperback novels in case I want to read anything written in English, and the sound-reducing headphones I bought in Manhattan. American items unavailable in Spain, such as marshmallows, measuring cups and makeup, I can jolly well live without. But with a +10 mage’s power against the ranting of lunatics riding next to you late at night on the 1 train, thy headphones shall not be left behind.
Mind you, I’ve had two months of preparation for this conversation. In early May, I moved out of the New Jersey apartment I’d shared with my brother, bringing three suitcases, a large Rubbermaid, and Flip’s cage with me to the Inwood apartment where I lived my last three weeks in Manhattan. I left there one suitcase, one Rubbermaid and one rabbit cage lighter. If the rabbit’s behavior warranted caging in Seattle, I’d jolly well have to cook him. Flip and I then bounced from Everett, Washington, to Seattle, to Salem, Oregon. I arrived here in Buffalo, my final American stop, with a mere two suitcases, a carry-on, and Flip.
I have this wild fantasy that I can whittle that down yet further. I have developed a mighty fear of the Paris airport (CDG) which by all reports is “Even worse than Heathrow.” I remember Heathrow as large and unfriendly, and it hardly takes a nimble imagination to replace that unfriendliness with Parisian snootery. Navigating that sea of rudeness with more than two bags sounds like going Christmas shopping in 5″ stilettos. It just doesn’t allow one to flee properly.
I realize I’m blowing it out of proportion, but what can you do. Obviously the trip is automatically easier than the last two I’ve taken, because I’m leaving my bunny behind. I love Flip, will miss him, and am very proud of how easily he wins friends and influences people. But bringing a rabbit on a cross-country flight is no easy matter. If your veterinarian had ever frightened you with graphic explanations of what happens when a rabbit doesn’t eat every twelve hours, you’d be stressed out, too. I’ve hardly set foot on pavement before my poor ride is listening to a panicked, “Can we just drop him off at home? Now? So he can eat? Before his intestines leak into his body and poison him?!“
Still, even without the rabbit, wouldn’t it be loverly if I could make it with just one suitcase? I tremble at this heady fantasy. I’ve gotten rid of my long sleeved garments (the interweb, as House calls it, claims the winters in Spain rarely drop below fifty degrees, and I figure by then I’ll have picked up a few sweaters at exotic shops in Barcelona, si?) the sexy black heels I bought in Philly, and the cases for all three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I’m not sure what else to throw out: my pineapple enzyme facial mask? my red Saucony’s? my Wacom digital tablet?
How can I? Honestly? What if I want to clarify my nasal pores, look American, or paint the exceptional landscape on something other than paper?
We’ll see. I don’t actually have to decide until Wednesday, and heck, that’s three whole days away. As Scarlett would say, tomorrow is another day. Another day to decide whether or not I really need pineapple enzymes.