It was 9:20 AM when the Aeropuerto de Barcelona El Prat customs agent told us that we had about twenty minutes to get our passports stamped at the Non-EU Citizen Customs desk if we hoped to make our flight in time. It was 9:21 AM when she informed us that desafortunadamente, the desk was situated approximately on the opposite side of our current location, downstairs, adjacent to the M1-M3 Arrivals Gates 1-22. It was 9:22 AM when she told us we ‘might’ make it there and back in time for our flight, si corremos muy rápido. It was 9:23 AM when I glanced at the hanging sign behind the customs desk, indicating said current, unfortunate, location: M5-M6 Departures Gates 52-62. It was approximately 9:23:30 AM when my roommate and I connected telepathically and began sprinting in-synch across the glossy-tiled-path toward our salvation.
It had been forever since I could remember wanting to travel to Ireland. It was on September 10th, 2014 that one of my study abroad program roommates and I booked a flight from our host city of Barcelona’s El Prat Airport to Dublin Airport for Friday, October 10th, 2014, 10:20 AM. It was on October 9th, 2014 at approximately 3:00 PM when we placed packed suitcases in our apartment living room and printed off the boarding passes. It was 7:00 AM when we got off the yellow-line metro at Estacio Sants. It was 7:11 AM when we boarded RENFE Train C2 servicio á Aeropuerto de Barcelona El Prat, approximada de llegada a 7:47 AM. It was approximately 7:14 AM when the automatic doors shut and Bono lulled me to lucid dreams of rowdy Temple Bar crawls with newfound leprechaun friends. It was 7:55 AM when my roommate rudely stole me away from my third Guinness keg stand to announce our arrival. It was approximately 7:55:20 AM when I started to ask her why arrival was later than promised, and approximately 7:55:21 when I stopped and remembered that I was in Spain. It was 7:56 AM when I confidently assured her that we had plenty of time to make it through El Prat’s comedy-of-a-security section and upstairs to M5 Departure Gate 56 by RyanAir’s generous standard boarding deadline-15 minutes before scheduled departure. It was the entire time up until then that I wholeheartedly agreed with my every word. It had been until then that I’d made every flight since arriving in Europe with time to spare. It had been all along that I knew myself to be a savvy, accomplished globe-trotter. It was never that I thought it could happen to me.
9:26:30 AM was the approximate time at which I glanced over my shoulder mid-sprint and failed to see my roommate in tow. It was approximately 9:26:32 AM that I stopped short and avoided a collision with a German family of four. It was 9:27 AM when we reciprocated proud glares and I proceeded to blot my face on the sleeve of my flannel. It was 9:27:20 AM that I realized she was gone and decided I had to carry on. It had been since my arrival in Barcelona on September 2nd, 2014 that I had been without a cell-phone, and since that time I had figured out ways to overcome this modern obstacle with the grace of a gladiator in sneakers. It was approximately 9:28 AM when I took my final breath and took off. It was approximately 9:31 AM that I was weaving in and out of stagnant crowds on the escalator of eternity. It was 9:32 AM when I floated toward the Non-EU Citizen Customs desk adjacent to M1-M3 Arrivals Gates 1-22. It was 9:33 AM when concerned humanitarians ushered me to the front of the line. It was 9:34 AM when the buxom brunette supermodel stamped my boarding pass and handed me tissues and sent me on my way, buena suerte. It was approximately 9:34:02 AM when I waved goodbye to the darling convention of socially-conscious superhumans and began my 1,000 yard dash to the finish line. It was 9:38 AM when I accomplished my finest Chuck Norris improv skit and leaped over 5 meters of menacing moving teeth and emerged on the other side of the upper-level where it all began. It was 9:40 AM and I maneuvered through throngs of braindead zombies ambling down the gargantuan hall toward M1-M3 Departures Gates 1-21. My flannel had soaked through my backpack and I could feel hoards of sweat scraping menacingly down my midsection since as long as I could remember running, but it had been never since I had permitted a care. It was around 9:42 AM when the gargantuan hall came to a screeching halt under the auspices of M1-M3 Gates 21-41. It was then that I realized I’d made a mistake. It was in that moment that common sense caught up to me and tore through my front flannel-pocket. And then I began to cry.
I don’t remember making a scene. I don’t remember screaming help until my throat was scratchy and raw. I don’t remember stumbling around begging for help from someone, anyone, at the Au Bon Pain café approximately adjacent to M1 Gate 23. At an unspecified time a British male voice kindly inquired what’s the matter love? At an unspecified time a good samaritan retrieved an airport employee with auburn-streaked curly hair and curly fuchsia nails who plucked the damp stamped boarding pass from my trembling clutches. Then at some point in the aftermath she escorted me through gargantuan hallway #2 that glistened with sunny rays which unfolded gradually lighting the way as we pushed on. At one point or another I stole a glimpse sideways at my guardian while she inspected her cuticles, sighing quietly. At some point I told her that her nails were pretty and she sighed again. About an eternity passed until we finally emerged from limbo, and she handed me off to The Messenger, who whispered with my guardian while passing a black walkie-talkie through his hands. Finally He motioned come hither and I obeyed, head down and somber, ready to receive my penance. Suddenly he laughed, lifted me up by my chin, and smiled warmly as he uttered firm words in Spanish over the radio. Before my guardian departed, she insisted on wiping the sweat from my face with three tissues, and refused to leave with the rest of the pocket-pack so I accepted them humbly. And then she was gone. And then The Messenger received the message he was waiting for and began to walk toward gargantuan hallway #3, and motioned for me to follow. We walked until I couldn’t remember what it feels like to stand still.
And then I saw it. The customs desk situated beneath the glorious realm of M5-M6 Departures Gates 52-62! I stopped in disbelief. The Messenger told me with his eyes to keep moving, so I did. Past the customs desk, where the customs agents stood and gave me a standing ovation. Past M5 Departure Gate 52, Past M5 Departure Gate 54. Then there it was, the words beamed at me, illuminated by innumerable golden rays; M5 Departure Gate 56. It was then that I realized I was wearing a watch on my hand. It was 10:22 AM according to my watch. It was 10:22:01 AM when I realized that my flight had been scheduled to depart at 10:20 AM. It was at approximately 10:22:02 AM that I reached toward The Messenger helplessly. It was 10:22:03 AM that he brushed my hand aside and pointed toward the RyanAir flight fairy opening the closed metal entrance gate below the bold-faced sign 56. It was approximately 10:22:05 AM when a gentle voice laced with a heavy Irish accent asked me my name. It was approximately 10:22:15 AM when I hesitated because I didn’t know the answer. It was around 10:23 AM when snapped her fingers and produced a clipboard of names, picked one, and asked me to verify my identity. It was about 10:24 AM when I was ushered through a noisy pale blue corridor and prodded across a mental bridge. At 10:26 AM I blinked. At 10:26:01 AM I blinked and was sitting in Row 25 Seat C3 next to my roommate. It was 10:26:15 AM when a crackling captain’s voice announced that the plane was ready to depart, all passengers please remain in your seats until the remove-seat-belt light has been turned off. It was then that I realized it was happening. I was going to Ireland.