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I needed a drink, and it was still too early in the morning. After an hour flight from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale, I’ve felt trapped in my own skin. Bella grabbed my leg. My feet haven’t stopped fidgeting since we sat down. Seven long hours of anticipation sunk into my consciousness as Bella, Rose, and myself huddled as a bundle of resting heads and backpacks near the departure gate for Lima. I picked myself up and stretched.
Finally, I stood up.
“Where are you going?” Bella asked, sleepily.
“Bathroom,” I said, without looking at her.
I drifted my feet along the polished tile and sterile aisles of the airport terminal. The turbine engines echoed in my ear canals along the barren hallways of fluorescent light. I stared at the meandering kiosk attendants, breaking my gaze once we made eye contact.
I watched the patience wilt off the middle aged bartender’s face.
“Can I help you?” She asked.
“Sorry,” I said, scanning the bottles behind her, “Sapphire and tonic, please.”
She placed a square napkin in front of me and walked away. I squinted at the creases manifested within it, each fold spiraling off another branch of infinite, tinier crinkles.
“Do you want a lime?”
I jumped, “No, no lime.”
She placed the drink in front of me with a thick black straw and left without another word.
This is it–six years of pursuit, gin, and tonic. My hand shook as I stirred the ice and liquid. Although I’m sharing this experience with two other travelers, I feel like I need to look out for myself–my needs. I knew what Bella and Rose would say if they saw me here at the bar, but I didn’t care. I’m supposed to be at ease, right? I’m the college graduate chasing adventure into oblivion. This is just as much my experience as their own. I’m the the hopeful youth, stumbling ahead in full wanderlust.
Except I’m restless, and no amount of gin can stop my foot from tapping against the bar’s facade. I knew what I wanted, but I’m scared of the unknown outcomes ahead.
“One more Sapphire?” The Bartender asked, cutting lemons from the other end of the bar.
I looked down to a glass of ice, “One more and the check.”
I watched the fresh ice dilute the liquor as she poured the warm gin on top. Did I make the right choice? I threw a twenty in front of me and sipped the new drink. Is this what I really want?
A life of plans and expectations brought down to an unwritten, changing itinerary put away in my head. A fresh relationship between a foreign continent, a girlfriend, a new friend, and myself. I sucked the last drop out of my glass and stood up.
“Safe travels,” the bartender said, half smiling.