The more I travel, the better I find myself able to cope with the inevitable fiascos – or, perhaps more accurately, the imaginary catastrophes that inevitably loom ominously on the horizon. Oftentimes the bumps in my roads don’t actually happen. Like today, when getting to the airport took longer than I anticipated and I left later than I intended to and the line to drop off my bag was enormous.
I made my flight. I didn’t have to run for it. I didn’t even really have to rush. And I’m really grateful that my anxiety levels only reached about a 6 (on a 10 point scale) at the worst point of the trip: when the woman at the security check point informed me that my phone wouldn’t work as a boarding pass (mind you, I had specifically asked about that at the desk when I dropped my bag), and she sent me back to the desk to get a hard copy. This was 35 minutes before what was supposed to be take off, so I was a bit concerned.
But it’s now 12:18, and my flight was supposed to take off at 12:05, and I’m standing in the gate area waiting to board. And it’s fine.
I don’t know if my equanimity has more to do with previous experiences, like the incredible awfulness of missing my flight from London to Pau when I was studying abroad in 2003, or the stewardess at Charles de Gaulle in Paris informing me that what I had was my ticket, not my boarding pass, and I would need to go look for my boarding pass (eventually she let me on the plane without it and a complete sobbing meltdown on my part). Or, if my coping skills have more to do with an expanding sense of trust in the universe. ‘Cause even if I had missed my flight, it would have been fine.
Last night, I stayed with a friend of a friend living in Berlin, and she’s a wonderful human being. I have every reason to suspect she would have been more than happy to have me back, and I would have enjoyed spending more time with her.
But as it happens, I’m on my way to Budapest. And I’ll get to have an adventure without having to enter into it emotionally wrung out from fear of a future that was entirely imaginary. So that’s cool.
And then: the universe decided to test my theory. I arrived in Budapest and couldn’t get a hold of my host. She had emailed me this morning asking me to text when I landed so we could meet in town (since I arrived in the afternoon). Sent her several text messages. Nothing. Sent her an email with the airport wifi. Didn’t know what else to do, so headed to the apartment. She wasn’t there. But she had tried to call me (a call I wasn’t able to answer), and so I figured maybe she could get my texts and I just couldn’t get hers. So I hung out on a bench outside and read Derrida and ate some snacks, and eventually, she pulled up on her bicycle and let me inside. And now I’m here, and showered, and all is well. I’ll go tackle the city tomorrow.