Mishaps and Marriotts: My Pre-Departure Misadventure

The first thing you should know about me, dear reader, is that I am largely incompetent. Charming, delightful, and amicable, sure. But incompetent. Undoubtedly, this will be a primary theme in my grand European adventure. But alas, this adorable trait of mine didn’t wait to cross country lines to rear its ugly head. Our story starts yesterday, at approximately 5:00 pm at the front gates of Georgetown.

I had just returned from leading an Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans with my motley crew of fourteen other Georgetown students. We went out for a farewell Tombs dinner, me alternately laughing at inside jokes and sulking at all of the fun plans and reunions in which I wouldn’t get to take part. The bittersweet goodbyes and punishing winter winds forced tears down my cheeks as I ran to my dad’s car. As the Healy lights faded in the rearview mirror, everything felt right. Symbolic, somehow. I had ended my first semester on a note of undeniable love and happiness. This chapter was closed and I was ready to move to the next. Until I was an idiot.

About halfway to Pennsylvania, one of my co-leaders from the trip called me. “I’ve found something that might interest you,” she said, “you left your laptop at my house.” I clapped a hand to my mouth.

I braced myself as the full weight of my Dad’s wrath crashed over me. Luckily for me, he’s a) quick to forgiveness b) used to my idiocy and c) easily bored in car rides, so his natural propensity for entertainment and conversation saved me soon enough. We turned around in a Maryland rest stop and make the drive of shame back to campus. So much for my symbolic goodbye. Instead, I had to weave my way through drunk revelers, sorely regretting the parties I was missing and wishing to God that I hadn’t packed my only winter jacket. I fetched my laptop and we arrived back in Pennsylvania at about 1:00 am, a mere three and a half hours later than anticipated.

The next morning dawned a steely gray sky shot with dark clouds. The world was still and quiet. Until my mom discovered how little I’d packed. The morning devolved into a panicked, stressful mess, my packrat tendencies prodding me to protest that yes, of course I needed nine pairs of shoes because what if I get in good with the Pope and need a fancy outfit, while my mom remembered everything I’d forgotten and my Dad alternately cursed at and fiddled with the printer.

Against all odds, we left the house at 2:00 pm, the perfect time to make my 5:50 pm flight. It was about that time that I discovered that I didn’t have a necessary Italian textbook (stay tuned for the outcome of this particular SNAFU). Other than that, my parents and I were in good spirits. I’d said farewell to my brother and sister earlier.

We arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport and did an uncoordinated but very enthusiastic celebration dance when the luggage we’d painstakingly packed (and unpacked and repacked ad nauseum) just fit within the flight limitations. The nice bag weigher people laughed at us.

We had lunch/dinner/whatever meal it is when Kate’s incompetence kept you too busy to eat at normal times at the Marriott Bar and Grill. I had a glass of wine because I am a newly minted twenty-one year old, and thereby very sophisticated.

We had a lovely time, and our farewells at the gate were teary. I love them very much, and will miss them these next few months- not to mention how much I’ll miss their constant rescues due to my aforementioned incompetence.

As I got aggressively patted down by the TSA security guard, my mind wandered to the winding streets and indecipherable languages I’d soon encounter by myself, without my two ballasts. These next five months will likely be filled with misadventures, mistakes, and aimless wanderings around some city or the other that I fail to navigate correctly. But just like this preparation process, I’m sure it’ll also be full of laughter, love, and very kind people. Ciao, America!

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