In the early hours of a Friday morning, I hopped in an Uber bound for MCI. Aside from a hour-or-so power nap after packing, I hadn’t slept in nearly two days and had just spent the previous hours crying on Ogilvy. In the day that followed, I would hop flights from Kansas City to Chicago to Dublin and then, finally, Venice.
My parents and a handful of close friends were the only ones that knew what was up. The plans (or lack thereof) had fallen together in a matter of days. New client projects, dog sitters and flights had all been ironed out just hours before. As I finally hit the calm of the gate staring at my first of many planes, I realized this was the literal beginning.
Each was more exhilarating than the last while also being overwhelmingly exhausting. ORD wasn’t intuitive, but once I knew where to go, things went smoothly. DUB, on the other hand, was a vast maze clouded by drowsiness. I wound through its giant glass walls for days in search of customs — which I was sure I had to pass through there. Other travelers branched in their own directions until it was very much only me left. At which time, I discovered the quiet bay where my flight would gather. Customs was never found.
I settled into the chilly gate to watch the sunrise while checking in on the work I’d missed on the other side of the world. A guy eventually ventured to the gate and stole the seat across from me. Assuming neither of us spoke the same language, we both smiled and continued our separate work.
When it was time to board, we were funneled down two flights of stairs and across the tarmac to be collected by a pair of buses. Crowded in, the buses hauled us across the airport and through shipping hangers to finally reach our plane. Once aboard, we were informed of the de-icing delay. I open the window so the warm sunrise could hit my shoulders. Two hours later, I awoke to our take off.
I wanted, so badly, to see Dublin from the sky. Drops of water slid across my window before freezing in wavy stripes. Squinting to see through them, my tired eyes threatened to close again. It wasn’t until we were well over the coast that the window offered just enough clarity to see waves crashing toward the shore. As clouds took over the sky, I went back to sleep.
The captain’s voice woke me, again, with the promise of seeing Venice. I still can’t be sure of what it was that I expected, but I was so surprised by Venice from the sky. It wasn’t the postcard view you know — but instead, long paths of water winding and flowing, breaking the solid dark ground into scattered bits and pieces.
We touched down and exited to the tarmac. Having traveled nearly a full day with oddly timed sleep and boarding in the notable cold of Dublin, I wasn’t prepared for the sun or warmth of the Venice airport.
I carried my backpack through a set of sliding glass doors and walked directly to baggage claim. There, I fumbled with my dying phone in a panicked attempt to call Elizabeth. I had no baggage to claim but the doors – all of the doors – I approached weren’t exits. Despite small blurbs of English under every sign, I couldn’t find my way out. Finally connecting to the crummy Wifi, I called her via Facebook.
Man, the digital age.
We found each other directly outside the doors I had been panicking to walk though. And that was that. On that warm Saturday afternoon, Elizabeth and Austin welcomed me to Italy with smiles and open arms. Without a moment of hesitation, the adventure began.