October 21st, 2017 Part II
(Cont. from Part 1) I was gone at this point. I probably looked a bit frazzled on the outside as I was trying to appear calm, but I was frantic that I would not make it. I had enough money to buy another flight, but then I wouldn’t have enough to get into Ireland (2500 Euro). I was going through all of the scenarios, how I’d have to go back home, somehow save up again, then come for whatever remaining time was left. Finally, I was able to move my things through the scanner. No one else had been taking their shoes off so I left mine on. I went through the scanner. The agent on the other side said, “Oop, you have to go back, take your shoes off.” (AHHHH!!!!) I went back, took my shoes off. The angry looking agent on the front side scanned my boarding pass and I moved through. I threw my shoes on as soon as they came through, put my laptop back in its case (has to be scanned separately), grabbed my bag, then sprinted to my gate saying out loud the whole way, “Please Lord don’t let me trip! Please Lord don’t let me trip!”, as I hadn’t taken the time to tie my shoes. I ended up running past the gate because I thought it said 822, and mine was B22. I ended up asking a janitor, who very deadpan said, “It’s right behind you.” I sagged in relief, frantic sweat and tears as there was a long line, which meant I hadn’t missed it. I didn’t look at the time. I didn’t care. I was getting on the plane and was hopefully past the most stressful part of my trip. I got on, put my “2” carryons in the overhead bin. This plane was a bit bigger, with three rows on each side of the aisle instead of 2. I double checked that I was indeed in 20E. There was a stiff looking girl with earbuds in the window seat, and nice looking lady in the aisle seat. I was trying to hurriedly put my things in the overhead bin as I had people behind me, but she said, “Oh, take your time,” in a lilt that sounded Irish. I said sorry for bumping her, then sat down.
It was only about 3:00-4:00 at home, but it felt like years had passed since that morning. I just kinda sat there in a daze for a bit, too shell-shocked to do anything else. I don’t remember who started it, probably me, but I struck up a conversation with the lady to my left. I told her about my day so far, and she tutted sympathetically, then said, “Well, you’re on it now and good to go.” We fell silent. The plane was moving and we were about to take off. I didn’t film it. I didn’t care. Still was not prepared for the stomach drop. Almost immediately, I fell into a very deep sleep. Not so deep though that I didn’t stop myself from falling to the right where the stiff girl sat. She probably would not have liked me falling in her lap. I woke up, maybe after an hour, and got some water from the flight attendant when he came around with the cart. I’d had that Cracker Barrel breakfast and Pringles all that day on the first flight. This flight, you could get a full meal, but I wasn’t hungry. Still too upset. I was staring at the back of the seat in front of me, thinking, “What if something goes wrong at customs or immigration when I get there? I might break if something else goes wrong.” I then thought of God. He has to get really irritated when His people don’t have faith in Him, especially when time after time He shows them He’s there. That’s when I thought of the ordeal I had just been through. It could’ve been much worse. I thought back to the really long security line. If I hadn’t gone to the help desk, I wouldn’t have been escorted and given the length and speed of that line, I would have missed my flight if I had just gone into the line regularly. Thank you God. Sorry I always doubt you. Then, as my thoughts centered on something else, my eyes widened. I forgot my hostel vouchers at home. That was the last straw, even after the thoughts about God. I just started crying, not loudly, as I never do, but I was thinking this was a huge mistake, I needed to go home, what had I been thinking, I was totally unprepared and scatter-brained, I was probably gonna end up homeless and penniless with no way to contact my family because I didn’t have a phone service.
After my literal breakdown, I started talking with the lady next to me, and she said once we landed I could use her phone to call my folks. I calmed down a bit and we chatted some. I told her where I was from, and she said she was from Newfoundland, which is where the plane was going to stop, St. John’s. Their main industry is oil, so when oil prices go down, it really affects their economy. She asked what Alabama’s main industry was.
I said, “Uh, farming?” I had no idea.
She said, “Oh? What kind?
“I guess it depends on what part. Some are crops, some are hogs, chickens, cattle farms.”
She found out I was going to Ireland an said her ancestors were from there. I could tell from her accent at the very least. She said she and her husband were supposed to have gone recently but he got sick. She had just got back from a trip with 9 other “girls” as she put it, the oldest of which was 80. They had gone down to Fort Worth, TX, as they had all taken a vacation together every year. She was a lab technician at an X-ray lab up in Alberta. She’d fly up and work for 2 weeks, then fly back down and have 2 weeks off. I said that was awesome but that it must be exhausting. She said, “Oh yes, it’s about quitting time.” We fell silent for a bit again, and I silently began to cry again as I thought of what everyone was doing back home, wishing I was there. We began our descent and landed. She handed me her phone, and I called my sister. No answer. Dang it. I called my bro-in-law. No answer. Dang it. I handed the phone back to her, “Ol well,” shrugging. She said, “Oh dear!” We sat there for a minute as I assured myself it would be fine.
“Maybe you could text them,” she said.
I did, saying it was me. No response.
Another 2 minutes passed, and her phone started ringing, “Ah! Here we go!”
I answered, almost dropping the phone.
Kayla. A familiar voice. Home. I almost lost it.
“Hi,” I said.
“What’s the matter?”
“I think I left my vouchers for the hostel at home on the black bookcase. I can pay for the hostel, but do you think you could send me photos of them? Maybe the hostel will take them.”
“Sure, are you crying?”
“Yes, it’s just been a very long day, and I’m tense. I’m fine.”
“You’re sure no one’s been mean to you?”
“No, its just been a stressful day.”
“Okay, well I love you. It’ll be fine, ya know.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, thank you.”
I hung up, still crying. “I’m a mess,” I said, giving a watery laugh.
“Oh no, you’re fine!”
She got me to talking again, I think more to calm me down than anything else.
I finally calmed down, but missed home. I guess it was, “I want my mommy” syndrome. I had had a bad day, I was tired, stressed, and I just wanted to go home.
She said, “You’ll be alright. Maybe we’ll see each other on your flight back.”
“Maybe,” I said. Laughing. I never got her name, in all my stress. A perfectly nice stranger. Well, I’ll either see her again, or just pay the immense kindness and support forward.
Fortunately, this was a stop and not a layover, so I didn’t have to go through customs/security again. I immediately went to the WestJet desk in the small airport and asked if I needed to pick up my bag as the lady at the last one said I should check. The info desk lady without blinking said, “Oh no, it’s the same flight so they won’t take it off and put it back on.” That was a dumb question, I thought. But with my exhausted brain, I wanted to make sure nothing else went wrong. I went to the little convenience store type and got a Chicken Caesar salad and a large water, though I wasn’t hungry. I ate it though because I hadn’t had a substantial meal in a while. Afterward, I got on Facebook and was messaging Kayla and someone from work. I started crying again. I really was a mess. Now, you see what I mean when I thought if I started, I wouldn’t stop? They both helped me calm down.
It was quiet at the airport, everyone tired and subdued. We boarded again, and I started reading, as my eyeballs felt puffy and I was just a bit too wired to go right to sleep. The book was good. Weird, but good, and ironically perfect for me for this trip, even though I was skeptical at first. So absorbed in the book was I that when a flight attendant came around, it was like coming through fog to come back out of the book.
“You can spread out.” I noticed that the window seat was open. I looked at the gent to my left. We both shrugged. I unbuckled my seat belt and moved, “It’ll be better for both of us.”
“Yeah, the last trip my arms were like this,” motioning his arms closer to his body, “now I can spread out a little.”
I smiled and went back to my book. They had the lights on in the cabin, but when we started to move, they shut them off. I turned on the light, but soon became drowsy. The captain came over the speaker, “Good Evening, this flight will be 3 hours, and 6 minutes. Weather over the Atlantic is fair, 6 degrees (Celsius).” I tuned him out after that. I didn’t lay my seat back, not once on either flight as I had read you shouldn’t do that because it creates a domino effect of everyone leaning their seat back. So I tried to make my travel pillow as comfortable as possible without my head lolling to the side. I leaned my head against the side. The plane rumbled louder than I remembered shortly before. The cold was seeping through the window. I put my jacket on, and soon fell asleep. I slept fitfully, but it was enough. The captain came over the speaker all too soon, “We are beginning our descent and should land in about 30 minutes…” I didn’t catch the rest of it as I was just waking up. I looked out my window. I wouldn’t have been able to see the Atlantic anyway, as dark as it is. I did see sparse and low lights scattered around the land. “Wow, Dublin goes to sleep, I thought.” Then Dublin came into view, so many lights as all the cities I’ve seen. “Ah, that other bit was the outskirts, the country. I couldn’t go back to sleep, but the lights were still down, so I just rested my eyes. I sat up about 15 min later and pulled my phone off the charger, scrolled through it even though I knew I’d have no messages.
I looked over at the gent next to me. He smiled and said, “You were sleeping pretty good, I was all,” and he started twitching as if sleeping in awkward positions. I laughed and said, “Well my butt was numb, but I was tired.”
We struck up a conversation. He’s originally from Estonia and had been living in Ireland for 7 years. He had been to Orlando, trying to get his green card approved. He had brought too many clothes and said it was hot. I agreed as I said I was from Alabama. He asked, “Are you here on holiday?”
I stiffened a bit, but hopefully not perceptibly as I said, ” No, I’m here for a year. I’m staying in a hostel.”
Still suspicious, I said, “Dublin City Centre,” saying no more than that.
“Oh aye, you can get a bus easily enough from the airport.”
He stretched and said, “I’m going home, and immediately going to sleep.”
“Well, I’ve got about 7 hours before I can check in, and I have to stay awake all day.”
We kept chatting for a bit, then fell silent.
I got off the plane, probably smelling to high heaven and looking worse, but I didn’t care. I arrived and got in line for immigration. A little apprehensive, I approached the window, handed the agent my passport.
“How long are you in Ireland?”
“What are you here for?”
“The Work in Ireland Program.”
“You got a job yet?”
“No ma’am, but I still have a job for a little while with an American company I worked for, until they find someone new.”
“Oh yeah? What do you do, then?”
“It’s order entry,” thinking she wouldn’t want a long explanation.
“Welcome to Ireland,” *stamp* “enjoy your stay”
I walked through, and went and stood near belt 5. It was the only belt that was moving. The gent from the place moved to stand beside me.
“So, you made it through, eh?”
Laughing in relief, I said, “Yeah, thankfully.”
“Your bag look like the rest of yours?” pointing to my carryon.
“Yeah, it’s a set. I was worried it would get lost between the flights and everything.”
“No, it’ll be fine.”
We got to chatting again while we were waiting.
“So, where do you live?” I asked
“City Centre,” he said,
“Oh, cool. That’s convenient.”
He got his very large gray suitcase off the belt and waited until I got mine. I walked off toward customs, and he was like, “uh, uh, you got anything to declare?”
“Well then you can just go out the regular exit.”
We walked through together and was at the airport exit.
“So, you gonna stay here for a bit?”
“Yeah. Relax, maybe get some coffee.”
“Alright then, the buses are right outside, McDonald’s is up that escalator. See ya later.”
Smiling, I said, “Thank you. See ya.”
I didn’t get his name. Too tired. Also didn’t want to seem too sociable because, you know, I’ve seen Taken. For descriptions of the nameless people, the lady on the plane was middle-aged, with bangs and blonde hair that curled inwards all the way around. She was wearing a melon colored shirt and jeans. She had the nicest smile. The gent was wearing a leather jacket, jeans, had a buzz cut of dirty blonde hair, and what looked like biker boots. He seemed nice enough, but you never know.
I went and just sat. Got on the WiFi on my phone and caught everyone up, including texting dad from my email. Then I walked over to a little cafe in the airport called “Upper Crust.” Got a butter and sausage English muffin and a mocha with an extra shot of espresso. The mocha was bitter, but it was coffee and the muffin was very good as I was, finally, starving. After that, I hung out for about 4 hours, alternating between putting my head down, reading, and scrolling through my phone. I wasn’t ready for what I knew would be another ordeal. Around 12:30, I got up and went to foreign exchange to get some Euros, then went to the bus stand to get a Leap card (public transportation card, you just tap it.), then bought a ticket on Air Coach, a bus. I put my bags under in storage, then got on. I leaned my head back and nearly went fully to sleep. I didn’t want to miss my stop though. We were going through town, and I didn’t see any really tall buildings. No buildings taller than four stories. Architecture was beautiful. I know, I know pictures right? My phone was about to die and we were moving. The lady at the airport bus stand said, “Get off on O’Connell Street, then just cross the bridge and you’re there.”
I got off, and there was no bridge in sight. I had a really heavy personal item, my carry-on which I tried, unsuccessfully to loop around my larger one and carry that way, so I just ended up rolling both of them. I chose a direction and it turned out to be the wrong one. I finally said screw it, I’m getting a taxi. I asked the taxi man if he only went to Dublin airport as there was a sign next to his car that said Dublin airport. He asked where I was going.
“Aston Quay (pronounced key)”
“Oh, that’s just a two minute walk that way,” pointing in the opposite direction of where I had walked for half a mile.
I looked in that direction, still seeing no bridge. I debated just telling him to let me ride as I was tired of lugging my stuff. I sighed though. He wanted to a better fare, and I needed to save my money.
“Okay, thank you.”
I eventually made it, and checked in. The hostel was unable to accept pictures of my vouchers, but I paid the $141 for 5 nights (not bad) and went upstairs. I sat down on the bed for a while. Just sitting and staring at the bunk above me, listening to the street noises outside.
“Wow, I’m here.” I breathed out loud.
I called Kayla on Facebook. She was getting Starbucks, of course. It was nice to be here and hear her voice. I showered and then got on my computer, scrolling through Facebook, looking up accommodation. trying desperately to stay awake. Then, I remembered my compelling book. I read this until dark, taking in every word. Then, I decided I was hungry. I went out and walked around and around and around, crossing the bridge over Liffey River about 4 times before I decided on something to eat. I had gotten my bearing though. Ireland doesn’t have street signs. At least Dublin doesn’t, so I was making note of landmarks, restaurants that stood out, and I had my map with me so I’d know where I was making these mental notes. I got a burrito bowl from Pablo Picante. I ate it, and almost immediately went to sleep around 8:30. I woke up around 3 and couldn’t go back to sleep, and my phone died so I woke up at 11 the next morning instead of the 7 I wanted to, but I had rested and that’s all that matter. And that concludes, the longest, most adventurous day of my life.