I’m a planner. From dentist’s appointments in six months to haircuts in six weeks, I schedule things. If you ask some people what they’re doing this weekend, they’ll say they don’t know. If you ask me, I’ll list my morning workout, when I’m doing homework, and what errands will be run afterward before I see who-and-who at such-and-such time for dinner at blank place.
I’ve also always wanted to go abroad. This has been a dream since high school. In tenth grade I decided I wanted to join the Peace Corps. In college I tried to study abroad, but my parents blackmailed me out of that. And in more recent months Sara and I have been plotting an overseas adventure that became waylaid by life.
Last night I booked my first trip abroad. Without planning.
As in, I found the ticket at 10:30 PM and had confirmed purchase by 11 PM.
I leave in five weeks.
The only thing I researched was, “Is Copenhagen safe?”
Oh yeah, I’m going to Copenhagen. And in case you’re wondering, a quick Google search had Copenhagen topping a list of ten countries women can visit safely alone (Google, 2016). That’s safe enough for me. I don’t know about my parents.
Now I’m left Googling Copenhagen’s climate in March, how much daylight will there be, do they use the euro, and how much a backpack weighs.
Because the other kicker is, I’m not bringing luggage.
I’ve always said do it for the story. Well, here’s the story: Sara and my other roommate, Liz (who still has a blog post coming about her), have been planning to go to Iceland this month with two other friends. They invited me, but it wouldn’t work with grad school.
Last week Sara and Liz hunkered down in the living room to plan flights and make itineraries. They shouted out dates and price-checked airlines.
Bored, I decided to browse flights for my spring break knowing that I would never buy a ticket.
In my theoretical, never-to-be spring break, I wouldn’t go to Iceland. I have this virginal fantasy of my first time out of America: it had to be Western Europe or Africa. And, like, traditional Western Europe.
Iceland would be akin to hooking up with Amy Schumer while secretly wishing I was with Keira Knightley. And I wasn’t going to London because that would be hooking up with Jennifer Lawrence, and I’m not a cliché.
We were looking at Wow Airlines. Yes, when people ask what airline I’m taking, I respond, “Wow.” And they go, “…” And I say, “Wow is the name of the airline.”
I started with Copenhagen as my theoretical destination. I don’t know why. I had seen “The Danish Girl” the night before?
I fiddled with dates and suddenly had a round trip flight in my basket for $470. I would arrive in Copenhagen Monday and leave Thursday.
I messaged one friend if they could take off work. They couldn’t.
“But you should do it,” they urged.
(Okay, a bit more colorful exchange and caps lock happened, but within 15 minutes I had sent back, “I HAVE A CONFIRMATION NUMBER.”)
And then I wanted to vomit. Because literally a life dream was happening. I am going to Europe. I am going by myself. I am going in five weeks. What have I done.
Unsteadily, I announced my recent purchase to my roommates “So I just bought a ticket to Denmark for spring break. By myself.”
They looked confused. “It’s not that easy. You still have to choose your seats and decide on luggage.”
“No,” I said. “I already decided on that. I have a confirmation number.”
Call me a fool, but I didn’t choose a seat. I will play Russian roulette and take whatever seat is available when I show up to BWI in march. And I didn’t pay for luggage there. Wow Airlines asks for $48 to carry on a bag. The only thing free is a bag weighing 11 lbs. or less. So that’s like an empty backpack and two pairs of underwear? Maybe toothpaste?
So I’m bringing a backpack and two pairs of underwear to Denmark.
I did pay $48 to bring a bag back that weighs 26 lbs. or less. I’ll fill up my empty backpack.
Minutes later, Sara and Liz completed their Icelandic flight purchase. We celebrated because we’re all going abroad. Then they started exchanging customs horror stories.
Me: “So how does customs work?”
Even now, hours out from my adrenaline-pumped trip booking, I am a total fan of the “just do it” mentality. But there are some moments in life – more like milliseconds where your index finger presses down on the mousepad while your cursor hovers over the word “CONFIRM” – where you just have to leap. You know you won’t die. You won’t break your legs. Sure, you may get a skinned knee, your bank account may do the limbo, but you’re going to survive (listen to me, you’re going to survive) and you’re going to have a story meant for campfires and vino and nursing home bedsides.
Not that buying tickets to Europe is that life changing. Except I can’t stop smiling; my face hurts. But either way, I’m going to Copenhagen for two and a half days in March, and I’m going to Instagram the crap out of this beautiful thing called life. Stay tuned.
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