I had just landed. I was now officially in the city that history was built on. The city of unnecessary hand gestures. The city of lights. The city that never sleeps. The windy city. I think I am getting my cities confused.
Rome. I am talking about Rome. I just landed in Rome.
In fourth grade, my body and soul was sustained by The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book series and a steady supply of nacho cheese lunchables. I always wanted to be a Bridget but I secretly I knew I was Tibby, minus the edgy highlights. While I was left at home, my friends would run off to exotic places like Palm Desert or Phoenix to go to sports camps, visit foreign relatives or live with fathers that had ungodly beautiful stepchildren.
But since those rosy colored days of fourth grade, I have matured. And though I am not yet a Bridget I have graduated to at least a Lena. I now sustain my body and soul with mature literature like the Hunger Games series and Totinos pizza rolls. In fact, I was carrying both of these things in my Jansport as I disembarked the plane in Rome.
This was my first trip to Europe and according to the Sisterhood books while I was here I would meet a handsome, soccer-playing Italian who works for the rival to my family’s pizza parlor, despite the fact that in reality my grandfather was a contractor in Orange County. But it was in the books, so it was GOING to happen.
I was waiting at baggage claim eating pizza rolls and daydreaming of Roberto and/or Ricardo and/or Carbonara (these are the only Italian names that I knew) when my friend Hannah tapped me on the shoulder. Hannah was my travel companion and was definitely a Bridget. She brought to my attention that I did not have my suitcase and no other luggage was left on the snaky conveyor belt thing in baggage claim.
I did what any Tibby turned Lena would do. I panicked. I nearly asphyxiated on my pizza roll. Hannah did what any Bridget would do and calmly walked over to an airport attendant who was leaning against a wall texting.
She explained the situation. He looked up from his phone with a blank stare and simply shook his head. He didn’t understand English. I panicked and tried to explain the situation to him again putting to use nearly nineteen years of charades skills.
Seeing my apparent distress a kindly Swedish couple came up to the conversation. They spoke broken English, quite a bit of German and no Italian. They tried to explain my predicament to the sassy guard. He still wasn’t having it.
A young French family came to my aid next. The Father claimed to speak a bit of Italian, but apparently not well enough to get the guard to understand. Next came a set of three very attractive Spaniards, whom I assumed were brothers or cousins or demi-gods. They spoke no Italian and no English. But I didn’t care. They were nice to look at.
We were creating quite a commotion; people began to take an interest in the situation then they would lend their opinions to the international potluck of insanity. A Chinese tour group proceeded to pose in front of us and take pictures. It could have been the perfect music video for We Are The World.
From the dialects I could discern I heard English, Swedish, German, Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese and Klingon.
No one spoke the same language but they all seemed very adamant about finding my suitcase. Multiple nationalities banned together to help the raggedy American who smelt of cheese and sadness. Is this how the UN works?
Everyone was yelling at each other, and no one was listening. It felt like a family reunion. I was suddenly homesick. I was ready to cry.
It was then that I realized that without my suitcase, I had only the clothes that I was wearing. These consisted of an Astrocamp sweatshirt and my plane sweats. I had no pants! And no shirts, shoes or underwear, but I had no PANTS! How was I going to meet and charm Alfredo and/or Rigatoni with my plane sweats? Riddle me that one Sisterhood.
I was in Rome, Italy with only The Hunger Games series and six Totinos pizza rolls to my namesake. The books prepared me for first kisses and the death of a friend but the series did not even touch on what to do when you only have a young-adult book series and six microwavable appetizers to sustain your body and soul in a foreign city.
Stupid Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Right when I was about to unhinge and just lie on the floor in a pile of my Totinos pizza rolls, an American pilot approached our mob. He grabbed Hannah and me out of the group. The crowd slowly dispersed.
He walked with us over to the unclaimed baggage office and helped me fill out several lengthy documents detailing the size, weight and genetic makeup of my suitcase. He patted Hannah and me on the head, pined a set of wins onto my Astrocamp sweatshirt and was off.
I had my bag 24 hours later. It took a detour to Heathrow.
When traveling to Italy be ready for the language barriers. Also, be forewarned that there are no Totinos pizza rolls to be found ANYWHERE. Believe me. I looked.
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