When our last full day together had finally arrived, my number one priority became spending every waking moment with Jorge and Jorge alone. We already did all of the sightseeing I possibly could have hoped for and traveling around with a local made exploring even better. Except, with a painful goodbye lurking in our near future, being together for as long as possible was all that mattered.
We set off on a stroll together through Valencia. We passed palm trees and ponds stopping only to take breaks or sit beside fountains enjoying nothing but the present moment, dismissing all fears of what tomorrow may bring.
Nature helped ease my growing anxiety with each passing second, minute, and hour. The sun started to set reminding me of the unforgiving nature of time: it’s stops for nothing. There is nothing like inevitable separation to teach you the importance of living in the moment. Breathing in fresh air, putting the rest of the world on pause, to enjoy what you have today.
My journey home began that night at 5AM. We took the subway to Valencia’s airport where I began my departure. Standing outside of the security checkpoint, I experienced one of the worst feelings in the world. You do not know pain until you experience what it feels like to look into the eyes of the person you love, turn your back on them to go through airport security, all the while recognizing that neither of you has any idea if or when you will be able to see each other again. That is pain in its truest form.
To make my trip to Spain as affordable as possible, I had booked a flight home with 2 connections. From Valencia, I flew to Madrid- nice and easy. Once I landed in Madrid, I walked out from the furthest possible gate from where I needed to be so I RAN as fast as I could, even switching terminals, and almost missed my connecting flight. (More time in Spain – yay! No, but in reality that actually would have been a very very bad thing.) Luckily, I was able to get onto my next flight in the knick of time.
From Madrid, I flew to Chicago and experienced one of the most horrifying things I have ever experienced.
The weather in Chicago was bad. There were exceptionally strong winds causing horrible turbulence as we neared our destination. During the decent, our pilot was lowering the plane into the city of Chicago and from my small window, I could see that there was a horrible storm taking place. Things got a kind of scary when the plane jerked around a bit, being subjected to vicious winds. I’m no pilot but I’ve flown enough times to tell that something wasn’t quite right with the way our plane was landing. Suddenly, the plane’s engine got very quiet. My stomach fluttered from the constant up/down jerkiness of our turbulent landing.
When the engine went silent, I really started to worry. What was happening? This was not your ordinary landing. Moments later, the engine kicked on full throttle and our massive plane fought to gain altitude. Instead of landing, our plane was…. trying to go up?? As a passenger, that is not what you want to see during your descent.
Our plane climbed, quite forcefully, back up into the sky and within a few minutes, we were once again passing through storm clouds. Everyone onboard looked very confused… The flight status screen even showed that our plane had turned around and was once again heading back to Spain (hmm, yay!) but the reality of the situation turned out to be that we aborted the landing due to unsafe conditions and we were going to have to … try again.
On our second attempt, landing went a BIT better and we made successful contact with the ground (the most important part!) but I was honestly so neausous from the stress and turbulence of the long flight that I just felt like throwing up. I certainly had no interest in taking the THIRD connection I needed in order to backtrack and go to New Jersey. My final flight was delayed by 3 hours extending my trip’s total duration to 24 hours. Yikes.
In Chicago’s airport, I found this cute tea place called “Argo Tea” that had a Green Tea Ginger Twist containing antioxidant-rich Japanese Sencha with ginger and lemon. It was the perfect treat to help settle my stomach. Super good. Eventually the storm let up and despite my hesitation, I ultimately ended up boarding the plane and a few hours later, I made it home safely.
Upon my arrival, I was the definition of true mental and physical exhaustion.