We finished our espresso and headed to the metro with plenty of time to get to the airport. Christy and I had had an incredible 4 day vacation in Porto, Portugal. “Why does that clock say it’s 19:17?” Christy asked. “Because it’s 7:17. It’s right. That’s the actual time.” [insert the kind of pause you never want your friend to make in a conversation]. “Our flight ticket says 20:30.” And we were at least a 30 minute metro ride away, and still had to wait nearly 15 minutes for the metro to arrive, our flight gate closing at 20:00. I had asked Christy multiple times when our flight was. “Gate closes at 10:00.” Honestly, it took me a while to get used to military time. But I personally, had not checked our flight ticket once since we bought it. Welcome to the world of overestimating yourself. We had in fact looked at a later flight when we were first buying our tickets, but why neither one of us was careful enough to read our printed itinerary carefully is a mystery that will forever go unanswered. I swear to you, we are responsible people. I said the F word a lot until the tension pulled us both into dead silence.
With about 100-150€ left in my bank account (to get me through the rest of the month), I could not afford an expense like this. Using my savings account for an irresponsible emergency (brought upon myself) made me feel even more irresponsible. It’s not like we had done anything major that day. We started our morning out conversing with two gorgeous Germans who had many beautiful things to say about Americans, and even more beautiful things to say about Madrid (my current city and love). “In case you’re ever in Madrid,” I said, as I handed one of them my number in the most girly piece of paper available. “I can show you around.” Smooth, friendly, movie-like, yes! 😉 Then we headed to Livreria Lello on Rua das Carmelitas 144. This very famous library was built in 1906; it is so unique in design it inspired J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter library. It is beautiful, and impossibly touristy. The number of people cramming through the Dr. Seuss style staircase, and trying to find an overpriced book to purchase certainly takes away from the charm. But it is unlike any library I have ever seen, and to me, that’s worth the 3€ entrance fee.
We spent some time drinking coffee and resting on the grass, where people read books, and couples made out. European PDA used to shock me, but 7 months in, and I’ve been desensitized.
It was hard to choose what to do next. There is definitely a lot we did not do. We were trying to be as productive as possible, without going to far outside the box because we had a plane to catch that evening. So we took a nice walk to the park, checked out the Crystal Palace, which is not an actual Crystal Palace like the one in Madrid. We heard its main attraction is the light show they do some nights. We saw beautiful flowers, ducklings, and grass covered in daisies. It was the taking selfies with daisies I regretted most later that evening. “I can’t believe we’re going to miss a flight, and not even because we were checking off a major Bucket List sight. We were taking pictures with f*CK%n$ daisies!” This became our inside joke. We also stopped by to take pictures with a hilarious sculpture of men sitting on benches laughing to tears, and briefly explored a traditional Easter Market.
“What should we do next?” We asked around 5:00 pm…You know, because we had time to kill. We stopped for a glass of wine at a place that had intrigued us every time we walked by. It had a sign that read, “You cannot buy happiness. But you can buy wine, and that is the same thing.” We gave the famous Porto wine another chance, but its intense sweetness and thickness still did not sit well in my stomach. Beginning to rush ourselves, we grabbed a quick dinner, and headed to the metro. At 7:17pm. Less than an hour before our gate closed.
I refused to accept this was my life. No, no, no, no. I visualized us making it. Another movie like scene to top off my movie like German experience. I also pictured myself eating bread and butter for the rest of the month, if we had to pay a crazy fee to get on the next flight. “Can you please pray to your Catholic Saints, and I’ll pray to my Japanese gods?” I requested, both of us bursting in laughter. Christy began apologizing to God for that thing she did when she was four years old. “Yeah girl. Take it back to the start,” I suggested. More laughter. Tension broke, and though our situation sucked, our friendship passed the test with flying colors! Even if we had to sleep at the airport that night, or scrape our wallets for cash, we were a solid team. How we were able to bathe in humor under such stress, I do not know. It’s how our friendship works. It’s the way we made it through finals in college, the way we made it through Christy’s first heartbreak, the way we made it through my dad’s cancer. We always made it through laughing.
The metro arrived to the airport exactly 4 minutes before the gate closed. “Sorry people,” I said to those in the metro, “because we’re about to push you all downstairs!” And we jolted out, ran down stairs, up to the departures floor, running, and gasping…All this drama a couple days after the Brussels terrorist attack at the airport…I hoped we were not suspicious in our madness. We guessed where the airline counter was, but there was a line. “We don’t have time for that!” So we went straight through security, not taking my shoes off, and making sounds that suggested “Hurry up!” to the 4 people before us.
With our backpacks on, we ran through the Duty Free store (lucky we did not knock off shelves of liquor). Running was useless. It was already about 5 minutes past 8:00 pm…or should I say 20:00. But we made it. There were about 10 people boarding still, and we got behind them, we high fived, and we completely lost it. Our laughter made harder by the fact we couldn’t breathe. “The gate never closes on time,” some friends told us later on. But I have personally missed a flight before, and know that in European countries, it’s a hit or miss when it comes to rule enforcement. “You didn’t do your visa check.” The flight attendant said. “I didn’t? Oh my!” “Don’t worry. My colleague can do it for you. Just remember next time.” Casual. Again, with the recent attacks, it was both a shock and relief to experience this nonchalance. “On the bright side, we didn’t have to wait!” Christy said. Our entire time together had been bathed in optimism. Like that time we went on a hike and I said, “Cloudy and sunny with 70% chance of rain. I’m going to bring my sunglasses!” You gotta choose to live in bliss.
Things kept looking up for us that night. We were sitting on opposite ends of the plane, but as we walked on, Christy was asked to switch seats and we ended on the same row. “Talk about an unexpected turn of events.” So many things had to go right for us to make that flight, though. From guessing our airline counter, to finding our gate quickly, to not getting tackled by security for running madly with a backpack on when terrorism was peaking that week. All the t’s were crossed, all the i’s were dotted, and in the end: I was staying in touch with a gorgeous, friendly, smart German; we had beautiful selfies with daisies, and we laughed in the face of adversity. You gotta choose to live in bliss. You gotta believe you will make it. And then, you’ve gotta run to get there.