What I Learned When Stranded Without A Prayer While Traveling
Battle off the eye twitch girl, you've got this.
My trip to Brussels was not what you'd call “smooth.” It was an adventure of traffic jams and closed streets, crying babies, and the bus driver getting lost to the point of us whipping out our Google maps in a group effort.
But I'm an easy going kind of gal. I wasn't flustered over how my two hour trip from Amsterdam turned out to be five, and I even had a good chuckle over how the massive bus had to do its third u-turn in the middle of a busy street because, where the hell are we right now?
That was fine, that was all gravy. Instead, I started to feel the edges begin to fray when I found myself standing in the rain in front of the bus station, sweaty from dragging my suitcase backwards and forwards for the good part of an hour, taking deep breaths to keep from throwing a level four tantrum over the fact that there was no one working inside the whole blasted place and I couldn't find where my bus to my aunt's house was hiding.
As the rain whipped into my face and my bangs plastered to my forehead, I tried to take deep breaths. I tried to count backwards from ten, and I tried really hard not to heave my suitcase at the next Belgian man that smiled slightly learingly at me. I was not one to lose my cool easily, I wasn't one to frazzle and snap. But today. Tonight. It was gonna go down.
I felt frustrated tears prick the back of my throat and I had a wild moment of wanting to throw my passport into the trash and hightail it back home.
But I gave myself a whole five seconds to wallow in this tantrum. A whole five seconds to sulk and to kick and seethe on the inside. Then, wiping the wet hair out of my face, I began to piece it all back together.
Alright, this bus turned out to be non-existent and there were no subway maps or information booths to be found, so what's the next thing to do? Grab an expensive taxi. It's not an option I love, but it's an option I have.
Closing the trunk of the cab on my bags, I felt slightly proud of myself. I didn't sit on a bench and wail in the rain like I wanted, but instead I drafted the next best game plan. Shimmying as I rounded the car to my seat, I was on my way to my cozy bed and jammies.
Or more accurately: My next meltdown. The rain picked up enthusiasm, now slashing sideways down on the sidewalk, and there I was standing in front of my aunt's flat, leaning on her buzzer with my teeth clenched, fighting back an eye twitch over the fact that no one was answering the door. And it appeared no one was going to.
No, this is okay.
I've got this.
But first, is there a puppy around that I could kick?
Christ on a crutch, how does a woman not just fall to her knees and rip off her shirt a la West Side Story? About a second from losing my mind, I had a moment's pause where I curiously – slowly – leaned over and took a moment to absorb how I was reacting. Granted I've had my fair share of hitches and mess ups on this one-way ticket Europe trip, but this was the first time that I truly found myself frazzled. And was I really going to answer this test with an ungodly wail and mental breakdown?
Am I really that easy to kick down?
Nah girl, no I'm not. Feeling determined, I gripped the handle of my suitcase and bumped it down the uneven cobbled street to the nearest bar with Wifi I could find. Demanding the cheapest beer on tap in exchange for the password, I sat down like a general at her map and called my mom to figure out where in the hell my aunt was hiding. After learning my mom wasn't home and couldn't get in touch with her, I put on a flirtatious smile, and with my hair plastered to my head like a wet dog's, I sauntered (waddled?) over to the bartender in my marshmallow coat and asked if he was in the mood to be a hero that night. Seconds later he was calling my aunt on his phone, and we both learned she was home the whole time and thought the buzzer was a takeout boy with the wrong apartment number.
Me and the bartender both wanted to face palm. But in the end I learned a cool new thing about myself, and it was partly why I wanted to go on such an ambitious trip to begin with: I might be on the verge of cracking under pressure, but at the last moment I can grab those fraying ends and find a way out.
Because there's always a way out. You just have to be determined to see it. Slashing rain and disappearing buses and all.