About a pair of flip-flops, a very expensive camera and a hugging Chinese-Filipino

Love finally catching his breath after the crazy run to the airport: “I hope you remembered to take your pass this time. Not like last time!”
Me, very confidently (discreetly reaching into my bag): “I do not like your tone, young man. (Love is younger than me. I am kind of a cougar, if you want to say so. Though by a difference of only three years. But I am so mature, ya know.) Of… course! aha! Check that, tss. Always have the only two important things to travel: passport, camera, toothbrush. What? Don’t give me this face. You never know when you’ll find yourself stuck in the woods or the desert. Then, after 12 days without a proper shower and only your pee to stay hydrated, you’ll be happy to be able to brush your teeth. I always feel much more myself after having brushed my teeth.”

I shook with pride my passport right in front of his face.

Love: “I don’t give you any face. Have you ever learned your addition tables? Did you renew your visa?”
Me: “Wow I’m confused. So many questions. What about my visa?.. Oh.”

I threw my arms in the air and started bewailing eyes looking for an answer from the roof: “WHY WORLD? Why? Why have you made me this way?”

When I felt my waist hugged. Oh. Was Love feeling empathetic? Instead of upset? Cool. I hugged back. A tiny little boy with slanted eyes and thick black hair. That was not Love.

Little boy: “I am so sorry! I thought you were with us.”
Me: “Don’t be! I love to watch people hugging in the airports and I secretly always envied them. Now I had one myself. I feel complete and ready to die.”
Love: “Don’t talk about death to a kid before boarding a plane.”
Me: “I feel complete and ready to board.”

Little boy: “Oh! We take the same flight?”
Me: “I expect so. There is only one flying. See? The schedule up there?”
Little boy: “Ah so you can come to visit my place in Manila! Can I sit next to you in the plane.”
Me: “Depends, how old are you? Do you have a signed authorization by your parents? Can you pay?”
Love: “Jess…”
Me: “Sure why not. If I can board, you can take the seat of this guy. He’s always growling.”
Little boy: “Why’s that?”
Me: “I am not always sure…”
Little boy: “No, why wouldn’t you be able to board?”
Me: “Ah. I am not quite certain that the guy at the counter will let me with an expired visa.”

I am for a real essential travel packing. Essential is the new light.

Love: “We could ask. It’s expired only for three days.”
Me: “And it’s still January! It’s still New Year celebrations etc. He would not have the heart to take that from me… maybe?”
Little boy: “Well it’s almost February, and Chinese New Year. You can try that too. Or you can talk to my daddy, he always has a solution.”
Me: “Rah thanks. Let’s try with the policeman first.”

Little boy: “Should we take some pictures together? I’m Shawn. And I’m five years and half, in case you’re still wondering.”
Me: “Go ask your parents permission please.”
Little boy: “Oh don’t worry that’s okay. Look my father makes the thumbs up. (He was right.) And I have my own camera too, look.”

A black monster camera. A very expensive camera that ought not to hang on a five year old child’s neck. But hey, who was I to judge? In fact, looking at my small silver camera, I felt a little under equipped.

After the photo seance (a hundred pictures were taken), Love and I slowly arrived at the desk. Love’s pass was taken first. Stamped. Then mine.

Policeman #1: “No.”

Then he called a friend as reinforcement. Well, a colleague policeman. Who took me… else where.

Me, with my best mixture of French, Chinese and English, and my beautifulest smile: “Hello, I am so sorry. I completely forgot. I just had my last exams of… my LIFE! Yes, that’s right – amazing huh? And I worked so much and then so much happened…”
Policeman #2: “Miss, I understand. But your visa is expired. You can’t board this plane. Unless you got 153 euros with you.”
Me: “Oh. That’s a lot of money that I do not have. With me. Okay. That’s a flop then. May I at least say goodbye to my friend? Because it was our last trip together before he goes back to Germany and me to France…”
Policeman #2: “No.”

Me, shocked and shedding silent tears: “But he has my bag and all my stuff. My toothbrush. Do you know how difficult it is to find a hard toothbrush? I have a hypothesis: there is a soft brush conspiracy in Taiwan. Also, you have it with the stupid fragile tissues. They fall apart at the first use. (Yes I like to reuse my tissues. I know it’s horrible for many people but I grew up with six handkerchiefs made of clothe and two very strict grannies on topics such as recycling).

Policeman #2: “What are you saying?”
Me: “I am not sure. You confused me.”
Policeman #2: “Okay a. About the bag, don’t worry. Your bag was brought back from the boarding room. Here. My colleague has everything.”

Me: “…That’s not my bag. Look. This is a very expensive camera. Do I look like a very expensive person? Have you seen my flip-flops? Seriously? I want MY camera. There are many memories on it. Please let me go, stamp my passport, I promise I won’t do that again!”

Policeman #2, looking confused, annoyed, and hungry all at once (I know he was hungry because his tummy was complaining loudly; also, I believe people being way harsher when they’re hungry, which would explain that he refused to let me go): “…”
Me: “…”

Policeman #2: “Your flip-flops are nice though.”

Suddenly I saw his eyebrows raising high and he said something in Chinese. I raised my eyebrows too: I was totally lost. And my camera and my toothbrush too.

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