The long, bumpy, seven-hour flight left me with the equivalent of a catnap overnight, and the plane landed before dawn that February morning.
The hotel wasn't ready, but my friend, Susan, had said I could come to her flat when I'd arrived. It seemed too early to call her, so I got some coffee and waited until the sun came up, then yawned and flagged a cab.
Careening around Paris, stopping to ask for directions to the tiny street he couldn't find on his map, the cab driver finally dropped me near the apartment.
Finally, inside Susan's building, I traipsed with my purse and heavy laptop bag, up... up... up... eight flights of steep, short stairs, grasping the twisted wrought-iron bannister, walking nearly sideways to keep from tumbling down.
On the landing I paused, my pulse raced from exertion and I swayed from fatigue. I walked over to the apartment number that matched what I'd scribbled on a scrap of paper. The laptop bag fell to the floor with a thump and I knocked.
As Susan answered the door, we squealed our hellos, gave each other a big hug and immediately fell right into the same banter that kept us going all through college.
Ever the hostess, Susan read my mind: "Would you like a cup of tea?"
A few minutes later, as she poured me a cup, the vanilla aroma filled the apartment, like a tray of sugar cookies fresh from the oven. All the strain and fatigue of the morning faded away in an instant.
Now that the cold weather is setting in, I crave this tea all the time. Go ahead, try it.