I’m sure you’re nice people. That’s why I don’t blame you, even if you laughed to yourselves after (one of) the most traumatic event(s) that I remember of my ‘early years’.
I saw you at Munich Airport at three in the morning. The sun wasn’t up, but obviously you were.
I was half awake, mindlessly trotting after my family as we rushed to find our flight without even being able to understand the signs. I remember hungrily staring at every restaurant we ran past, salivating at the thought of food even after a big breakfast.
At a particularly scrumptious picture of apple danishes posted outside of a bakery, from which wafted an odour that I like to think resembled that of the gates of heaven itself, I paused.
My moment of hesitation wasn’t enough to make me lose sight of my parents, who stopped at the plane schedule board to translate the letters above at an agonizingly slow pace.
At that moment, I considered my options.
Did I want to use the remnants of the stipend of Euros I had carefully been spending throughout the month of travel on a pastry that I would have to eat in less than the time it took my father to find ‘Departure’ in a German-Spanish dictionary?
Or, did I want to hold off until we found our gate, at which point I would have enough time to thoroughly enjoy whatever goodies were being sold at the stores closest to the doors?
The choice was clear to my sleep-deprived brain.
I shouldered my backpack and strode inside with all the grace of a drunk eighty-year-old woman dancing at a midnight club. I approached the counter and, with a broken accent and enthusiastic gestures, ordered my danish.
I didn’t have to wait very long, and the amount of money I spent was minuscule in the grand scale of the two thousand dollar trip. But at the time the wait seemed eternal, and I forked over my money while pinching my face like I had severely misunderstood the concept of a duckface.
I left the store choking down the pastry and the guilt, ultimately dissatisfied with my decision. As soon as I exited, I encountered the consequences. My parents had moved on to greener, carpeted pastures.
Instead of panicking, I pulled out my phone and tried signing in to the airport wifi, all while walking forward into the oblivion of being lost within an airport.
As I looked for my parents over the screen, I started reminiscing the last time something like this had happened to me. I recalled being a six-year-old child, running off with my mother’s phone back into the baggage claim crowds.
On that trip, we had luggage with pink tags. And I must have subconsciously integrated the memory into the situation because when I spotted some mildly fluorescent danglers out of the corner of my eye, I made a beeline towards them. I parked myself beside the luggage and draped my coat over the closest one.
I must have stood there for three, maybe five minutes, before I bothered looking up. And there you were, smiling the kind of smile someone who is eating a particularly rotten fish that was gifted to them by their significant other normally makes.
There was a pregnant pause. The pregnant pause gave birth to many baby pauses, each more excruciating than the last.
“Sorry,” I mumbled, face burning. You were nice to me, just nodding and letting me do the walk of shame away from you. I grimaced at you as a gesture of embarrassed gratitude and looked around. Then I saw my mother, standing in line for a money exchange booth and generally minding her own business.
I stood beside her and screamed internally, bidding the filthy airport tile to give way in a flash earthquake and cause me miles of internal hemorrhage, hopefully erasing both of our memories of this series of events.
Alas, it was not to be. And to this day I still think about the incident and wonder what kind of pie you and your friends eat while laughing over my humiliating-albeit harmless- mistake.
Thank you for your patience,
A Humbled Youngster