Pop Goes The Butterfly: My Flight to Lisbon - My Family Travels

July 2007- This marked my third trip to Portugal and my first time on a plane without an adult. I was off to Lisbon to visit my grandparents for three weeks sans the parentals and the drama that was consuming my social life. Life was good. My case of the butterflies was terrible as the generic “goodbyes” were made just before Logan Airport’s security gate. These flying insects multiplied in my stomach; I was anticipating a Southern Gatekeeper to pop out of my mouth as I boarded the plane.

I nibbled at some gummy bears with my chunky Ayn Rand books in tow as I became settled in my window seat. Daydreaming of the strapping young Euro lad who would be sitting next to me for six hours, time passed quickly until we were due to take off. An older gentleman sat next to me, the rest of his party to our right. I soon realized that he didn’t speak English. Not speaking much Portuguese, I just smiled. The awkward silence began.

Only, there wasn’t especially an awkward silence at all. Every few seconds, the old man parted his lips creating the most annoying popping sound I’d ever heard. This continued for the entirety of the trans-Atlantic flight. No matter how loud I played my iPod or blasted the movie being shown in the front of the cabin, I couldn’t block out the incessant pop…pop…pop of the man’s mouth.

Sound aside, I thought that perhaps the in-flight movie would be able to distract me. It was, after all, starring my favorite celebrity heart throb Edward Norton. By the time I could actually fully focus on Norton’s premier acting and wonderful facial features, his character died of cholera. I felt the last butterfly gently flutter to the grave with him.

My father would be able to make me see humor in the situation and as we flew over Newfoundland, I began missing my family.

I returned to my iPod in hopes that music would shake me from my thoughts.

I ended up listening to a mix my best friend Josh made me shortly before I left. It was a bad idea. As I listened to Quelli Che non Hanno l’Eta by Eiffel 65 (nauseatingly remixed by the popping of my neighbor’s mouth), I began missing my friends back home.

I watched the sky change until we finally reached Lisbon. But wait! The airport was full. Add thirty minutes to that six hour flight. Multiply the popping of the old man’s lips by fifteen. The plane flew low over the city, and I recognized the Discoveries Monument of Christopher Columbus, the Águas Livres Aqueduct, and Cristo-Rei.

These things reminded me of my prior visits to the country with my family, and how much I had missed my friends on these trips.

When we finally landed, I got off the plane as soon as humanly possible. My luggage took another twenty-five minutes to arrive. At that point, I was relieved it hadn’t been lost.

Upon reaching my grandparents in the lobby, my optimism returned for a while. Until I realized that they were speaking Portuguese much more than they had in front of me in the past.

I kept to myself for the most part those three weeks. My iPod, Ayn Rand, and memories of my friends and family kept me company.

Josh weighed heavily on my mind; silly things reminded me of him over the course of the trip, like parrots on bicycles and nuns in Fatima.

I was so ready to leave my life behind that I didn’t even stop to think how miserable I was going to be without it.

I learned to be careful of what I wished for, and I will keep it in mind when Josh and I go to Portugal this summer. The butterflies are regrouping.

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