It’s so beautiful here in Parc de Montjuic; I have the whole hill to myself. I walk inside the fortress, pretend there’s still something to protect. I watch the port activity from up high while I eat my juicy nectarines. The containers look like Lego bricks, the cranes are the only dinosaurs not yet extinct. Nobody is around to bother me, so I don’t feel restrained or shy and can take stupid pictures of myself. I stare at the sea and think of old civilizations and of how little I remember about them from school.
Maybe everybody writes about this, but I’m the only one who actually does something about it. That is: it’s all so beautiful, I’m going to miss my flight.
I realize it’s getting late and walk downhill. I grab the bicycle and pedal all the way to the flat in Barceloneta. I put all my stuff in my rucksack, leave a note to my friend, close the door, throw the keys through the mail box and leave. I walk fast thinking everything will be OK, but the combination between the metro and train seems endless. I’ve been walking through this tunnel for ten minutes, and it doesn’t seem to end. I can’t stop sweating, my back rubbing constantly against the heavy rucksack where I carry all my life with me.
I finally get to the train ticket office. While I’m choosing-the-ticket-looking-for-coins-paying, I can hear a train arrive, I can hear the speaker announce it, a female voice saying the next train toward El Prat airport is about to leave. I run downstairs but the train is gone; just gone, which is the same as nothing at all. The next train will come in about 30 minutes and–oh my god I don’t think I’m gonna make it. So I wait and wait and bite all the nails I’ve never bitten before.
The train arrives. I sit down. I meet an American who tries to calm me and be positive about it. We get to the airport, I say bye and run run run with all my 20 kilos of life on my back. I get to the check-in gate and it’s too late; the plane hasn’t departed yet but the check-in gate is already closed. Game over. Plot point. This is when the movie takes a turn; music in the background grows louder, ralenti, fade to black.
But this is real life. I just missed a plane ’cause I’m plain stupid. It’s just a bit embarrassing and silly and pathetic, but most of all, nobody cares about it. So I call my friend Fernando, and he agrees to let me crash a few more days at his place.
On the way back to the city, I wonder if this was all meant-to-be. If that plane will actually fall, and I have just saved my life. Then I think maybe it’s this train which will crash and end all this stupidity. But nothing happens and I feel even worse, continuing to live this oh-so-ordinary life of mine. Nobody would turn this into a movie, nobody.
It takes me awhile to stop punishing myself, to finally assume it, turn the page and buy a new ticket. I think about changing all my plans but finally, I don’t: I will stick to the original plan, book a new ticket to Timisoara, go from there to Belgrade. And then who knows…
I missed a train because of two minutes; the train that would’ve made me catch that flight. I can’t stop thinking about those two stupid minutes. It’s scary to think such a small amount of time can change so much. Now nothing is gonna be as it was going to. Those two minutes will change my life forever, and the lives of the people I meet, and the lives of the people they meet. Maybe I don’t need to be part of a movie after all, because life is more complex and profound and mysterious. It’s scary and exciting, and I decide I will board that second plane a new person, prepared for this new unexpected future-take-two.
Or maybe it all starts right now, in the scene where I get back to Fernando’s flat and he’s waiting with a half-smile and a bottle of white wine. This surely wasn’t in the first script, but it does feel real. The laundry hangs from all the balconies, waving, in different colors and shapes, and I suddenly feel so liberated.
* * * * *
Today, two years later, I sometimes think I was reborn on that day I missed my flight. I mean, the modern/real/actual me was born that day. The one who will travel and see and learn, who will party with the French in Timisoara, buy homemade brandy in Serbia, hitchhike through Montenegro, squat in The Hague, camp by the sea in Sicily, fight a snowstorm in Prague to catch the right tram with the right person one cold cold winter night when I was lazy about going out but finally, after a few beers, accidentally made all the right choices, all the right moves; like in the movies.