By Melissa Contover
“Bienvenue a bord mesdames et messieurs” the flight attendant announces over the planes intercom making me feel as if we were already in France. Thank god I retained something, anything, from my French classes which I had taken ever since seventh grade. I could finally understand that she was saying, ”Welcome aboard ladies and gentleman” and I couldn’t be more excited for what this flight had to hold and where this plane would bring me. Ever since I was little my dad told me that “Traveling opens your eyes to the world and you learn something from every place you visit” and little did I know he was right. Every plane I’ve gotten on has brought me new experiences, new people, and a whole new perspective on life. Almost every place I’ve traveled to it has just been my dad and I. He wanted to “give me life experience” and the only way I would do that, according to him, was for him to take me traveling.
In this particular instance we were boarding an Air France flight to Paris, France in the summer of 2018. As we were boarding the flight I look down the two perfectly symmetrical isles with three seats in each row on the left, middle and _right side of the cabin all buzzing with people. The seats were a lovely shade of navy blue with gray accents, cozy even for economy seating. The previous year my dad and I traveled to England and France but we only got to spend a few short days there, but this time we were only spending time in France. I couldn’t wait to experience real Parisian culture and everything else I could learn.
When I was young I always enjoyed traveling with my dad. He has always been an easy going, go with the flow type of guy so whenever we traveled he was always flexible for new adventures. Each time before we traveled we would make a loose itinerary of what we wanted to see and where we wanted to go, but we always left room for the unknown. One of my favorite stories from my dad was when he was in his 20s he rented a car in Germany and drove all across Europe and along the way he saw the Rolling Stones perform live in the Czech Republic. I always cherished his travel stories because to me, all these places weren’t so far out of my reach thanks to him. “An airplane can bring you to your destination but when you get there it’s your responsibility to learn as much as you can” and so I did. Every place I’ve gone to, slowly but surely I’ve learned something about myself or the area or the people. Although a plane may not seem like the most typical place for someone to learn something my dad made it seem like it was the best place to learn. Each time I stepped on a flight the plane would bring me to someplace new, someplace unfamiliar and someplace completely enthralling and because of those planes I wouldn’t be who I am.
While my dad is a simple man with simple tastes in almost every sense he also knows how to travel light. In the summers when we travel together you can always find him in a yellow polo with jean shorts and never seen without his beloved Tag Heuer watch that we got together the summer before and a pair of worn down Sperry’s he’s had for ten years. He brings a small little suitcase full of his polos and his jean shorts. Even though my dad is older for someone with a daughter my age he has been .able to grant me so much experience with not just traveling, but with life as well. He’s been an avid traveler his whole life and now he wants to pass that onto me and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The feeling I’ve gotten before takeoff has always been the same. It’s a mixture between excitement and chaos of the unknown. Each flight brings you someplace new and someplace unknown and I think that’s part of the excitement for me, not always knowing what’s in store. “Don’t worry” my dad would always say when I used to get stressed out when something went wrong on vacation. His mantra was basically “don’t worry” when regarding almost anything because he believed with time, everything usually works itself out. By the time we’ve taken off, had our meals, and taken our naps I didn’t feel that chaos anymore. I felt ready to take on the new endeavors I would create in this new exciting place the plane was taking me.
When we landed in Paris I immediately learned that the broken French I learned in middle and high school would come in handy. The reason I initially took French back in seventh grade was because I loved the sophisticated sound of the language and how beautiful it seemed to me. In France everywhere I turned I heard this beautiful language where people would chat in cafes or while taking a nightly stroll. Even shop owners would greet me cheerfully with a “Bonjour!” or “Bonsoir!” and I would attempt to use my best French accent and attempt to sound like a native.
After our lovely trip came to an end and being able to see every sight that we wanted to see we ended up back at the airport right where I started my journey. We got back on the plane and I saw those same navy blue and gray seats as before and I knew this is when my trip was really coming to an end. As our plane began takeoff I looked out the window and looked at the French Countryside with its beautiful green grass and simple houses with shades of brown and gray and wished I could stay longer. We took off overlooking the Eiffel tower and all the little houses and the countryside looked so far away from where I once was. I was eternally grateful for the experience I was given and looking out that plane’s window I knew I would cherish the memories I made with my dad.
Melissa Contover is a student at Suffolk University.