Sunday, August 12, 2012
How to meet up in Portugal on purpose
In many (welcome) ways Nick and I are different. I'm anxious, he's steady. I'm outgoing, he's reserved. I'm a bon vivant, he's an ascetic. But in other ways we are disastrously twinned. We are untidy. We procrastinate. We're skeptical of maps, plans, budgets, files, and back-ups.
After discussing different spots in Lisbon we could try to meet up once I arrived, finally Nick insisted upon collecting me from the airport. However, neither of us would have phones. At best if things went awry (surprise illness, cancelled flights), I could go into the city, find an internet cafe, and e-mail "I'm here, where are you?". Then, um, refresh my inbox until I got a directive from him? Oh and I had no map and about three known words of Portuguese. Does that make you nervous? Not us. See why "disaster" is appropriate?
I couldn't get to sleep on my red-eye flight from Newark to Lisbon despite my fun-sized wine and sleeping pill, instead I covered my head with my scarf, closed my eyes, and held very still for hours in a low-budget performance of sleep. So when I emerged from passport control into the dazzling sunlit Arrivals area, I almost laughed out loud when I encountered a proper SEA of black-haired, olive-complected men about my height all eagerly anticipating their loved one. An absurd Nick Where's Waldo. I scanned quickly but couldn't find him in the crush of lookalikes.
Not here yet? Could be. My flight arrived early and Immigration went much quicker than I expected. I paced out the arrivals area to make sure it was the only sensible place he might look for me, and it was. So I sat down with my book and read for a while, not eager to take the Next Step, and still pretty sure I wouldn't have to.
Forty minutes later I saw him frantically winding through the crowd, wearing a red shirt, his face seven days unshaved. My person!
Dude's cheapy plastic travel alarm had failed and he had scrambled to catch a cab to the airport, all sweat and apologies. And so we were an annoyingly interwoven mush the whole metro ride back to his flat in Bairro Alto.