Though more than 40 hours have raveled away since I hugged my parents goodbye, the travel day that began on the sidewalk of San Francisco International Airport continues to unroll. Without regular meals or REM sleep, time quickly dissolves into an abstract theory, defined by mental addition and subtraction, meaningless to my body. Iceland = Pacific Standard Time + 7. Frankfurt = Iceland + 2. Madrid = … But the flight that ought to take me to Madrid never leaves the ground, something to do with a troubling dashboard light. The connecting flight from Madrid to Lisbon becomes just another bothersome number on my useless boarding pass.
Instead of spiraling into a whirlpool of mope, I ride the wave of adventure. After all, Air Europa foots the bill for a bed in a five-star airport hotel. Since I don’t see many stars in my student-budget sleep future, I revel in unfamiliar opulence: a midnight buffet, a forest view, a shower ensconced in green glass, and more sheet-threads than I can count.
The next morning I visit the first ring of Hell (signs say it’s the ticket and check-in lines of Frankfurt airport—cumulative waiting time: 3 hours). An angel comes to my rescue, booking me a direct flight to Lisbon. I ascend to purgatory (the waiting zone for Gate B10), and the hours roll on towards meaninglessness sums, and hopefully, eventually to Lisbon! Why not call the delay another loop on the inscrutably wise loom of the universe? After all, arriving in Lisbon with a five-star night’s sleep will certainly brighten the edges of my first glimpse of the city.