When the ship docked in Venice, we were all sad that the trip was nearly over. We had one more night to hang out together in Venice, which meant more wandering through the maze they call a city, more water taxis, and more gelato and beer. I, for one, had to call it an early night, because I was once again flying by myself.
Being the scatterbrain that I am, I couldn’t find my flight information. But I knew the time and the airline, and I had found the bus station the previous day. Literally down to the last few dollars in my pocket, I had skipped dinner the night before. My friends kept trying to help me, but I’m incredibly stubborn. So I chowed down on a granola bar, and slipped out the apartment around four in the morning, dragging all of my luggage. In addition to the luggage, I had thought it would be a fantastic idea to surprise my fiance with a three-liter bottle of Crown Royal. I got a great deal on it from the ship’s duty-free store. I did not anticipate dragging it through the streets of Venice at four in the morning.
I walked about three miles in the dark, seeing several rats, with easily my body weight on my back. (Or so it felt.) I made it to the bus station, where a group of drunk punk kids were hanging out. I tried to stay to myself, and they kept bugging me. I was finally rescued by a young American couple who was studying abroad. I told them that I needed to catch the bus to the airport. Their response? “Which airport?” Huh?! Venice has more than one? Shit. This was definitely not my morning. I also ripped my super-cool hot pink pashmina that I had bought to visit the Pope’s house when it got caught in the wheel of my suitcase. Taking the American couple’s advice, I chose an airport, and they put me on the bus. I rode to the airport, alone, and terrified that I was going to the wrong place. I had zero money left, having spent my last three bucks on the bus ride. I was nervous, broke and starving.
We made it to the airport, and luckily, it was the right one. I thanked God for looking out for me. And then he took a long lunch break.
I made my short flight from Venice to Rome. I went to the baggage claim, and my suitcase wasn’t there. I was getting desperately close to missing my flight back home. I ran to the office and tried to communicate what had happened. I was told to return to the carousel and check again. Uh…thanks. Excellent customer service. I went back to the office and told them it wasn’t there. She then started to take my address, telling me it would be shipped to me in the States. Well, that sucked, but at least I would get home. The clerk then took a phone call and told me that my suitcase was now on the carousel. Score! I grabbed my bag and ran to the terminal. But it was the wrong terminal. I was told I had to catch a shuttle to the NEXT terminal to get to American Airlines. I ran outside and waited impatiently, staring at my watch, knowing there was no way I was going to make this flight. I raced into the terminal only to see the empty American Airlines counter. I sprinted up to the customer service desk, and my worst fears were confirmed. “Ma’am, you have to be here three hours early to catch an international flight. It leaves in 45 minutes. Sorry.” I instantly turned into a blubbering mess. Tears were pouring out, splashing onto the counter. The final straw was when snot started hitting the counter. No matter what, I couldn’t stop. I was 27, not seven. But I couldn’t help it. I was tired of being alone and not understanding the language, and I missed Justin, and I just wanted to go home. I was told to contact American Airlines directly, and was quickly shut down. The only other flight to the States didn’t leave until 10:30 the next morning. I was stuck in Rome, and I was broke.
I went to the payphone bank and called Justin. I didn’t care that it was two in the morning for him. I hadn’t gotten to talk to him much during the trip, and I missed his voice. And I wanted him to tell me that it would be okay. Except he didn’t answer. I then placed a call to my mother, caring slightly more that it was 2 a.m. Of course, she answered in a panic. When I explained the situation through my boo-hooing, she told me it would be okay; there was nothing I could do. I called Justin back and he told me the same thing. They were nice about it, don’t get me wrong, but nobody could change the circumstances. I then called my friends, who were safely at their airport, and heading home together. They told me I knew my way around Rome by now, I should go explore some more. But I felt too broke and too sorry for myself to do that.
There was an airport Hilton. I walked over and told them I needed a room. I pulled out my mom’s “emergency” credit card and charged $250 on it for a crappy European hotel room. I hated that it was that expensive, and I was pissed at the fact that I was supporting Paris Hilton’s inheritance.
The room was tiny, by American standards. There was one channel in English, and it was MTV. Even then, every third song was in Italian. I visited the ATM and withdrew enough money from my personal account to purchase a bottle of water, a Coke Light (Europe’s answer to Diet Coke) and a Snickers bar. That was my sustenance for the remainder of my time in Rome. I spent the evening watching MTV, rationing my water, taking a bath and reading my book. I called Justin a couple of times, but didn’t have many minutes left. And I’m pretty sure he was sick of hearing me cry about my day. I went to bed at 7:30 p.m.
The next morning, I woke up early, thanks to my early bedtime. I got my stuff together and caught the shuttle to the terminal, where I was the second person in line to check in for my flight. It was seven in the morning, and there was no way in hell I was missing that flight. And then things got better. I got to hang out in the first-class lounge and eat free muffins and drink free Coke Light. I’m pretty sure I ate more than my allotted share, but damn, I was hungry. I got on the flight and made it almost to Chicago, when I started to feel dizzy and nauseous. I tried to be nonchalant, but my seatmate kept asking if I was okay. Assuring him that I was, I managed to make it off the plane before running to a restroom and throwing up all of my delicious first-class food. Weird, I thought.
I made it through customs, and found a Chili’s Too. I was so excited, I could barely stand it. Of course, with their limited menu, they didn’t have what I wanted (are they in cahoots with McDonald’s?) but I didn’t care. My paycheck had come through, so I had money again. I called everyone I knew to tell them that I was in Chicago, eating American food and drinking American beer. I got home to Tulsa that evening in much better spirits. Another bad thing about missing my flight was that I had to go back to work the next morning. I had originally left a day to recuperate and hang out with Justin, but I didn’t get that. At least I didn’t have to miss work, I thought. So the next morning, jet-lagged and tired, and still wondering what had made me puke at O’Hare, I headed back to Dillard’s.