An Uber Black pulls up an inch too far and right into a puddle. Nora’s brand-new converse high-tops sit squarely in the splash zone. She winces.
“It’s fine,” Sashi pats her on the head. “I packed you, like, 100 Tide pens. It broke my heart imagining you trying to mime your way into finding one.”
Nora hasn’t cried all week. She held it in while getting a call from the consulate that her visa might not be ready in time (false alarm, she got it last night!), and even managed to stay dry-eyed when Sashi threw her the sweetest goodbye party at an Alphabet City beer hall last Saturday.
But now, in the final seconds of her life in New York, Nora ugly cries. Sashi tries to comfort her, but Nora’s eyes are like busted hydrants, erratically spraying in all directions. The driver tries to stay out of the way as he manhandles her unwieldy suitcases.
Sashi pulls her in for a hug and whispers in her ear, “Repeat after me: I got this.”
"I got this," Nora whispers back.
Sashi squeezes her a final time, and Nora gets into the backseat of the car.
Nora plugs in her headphones and ear chugs the auditory equivalent of a Gatorade.
Nora’s still in shock. She didn't realize Ulla had upgraded her ticket to Business class! Here she is, sitting in the JFK OneWorld lounge eating a sandwich she’s definitely not hungry for but can’t not eat because it’s free! Go, Nora, Go!
Two glasses of champagne later, Nora peers out the window as she escapes the tall, dark city. Peace out, New York. It’s been real. It’s time for the next chapter of her life - her business class life! What what?!
Nora flattens her seat into a bed, pulls down her eye mask, and lets her nostalgic magic playlist lull her to sleep. She's got this adult thing figured out. When she wakes up, her new, perfect life will have begun.
"I got this."
So this is awkward.
It seems that in her slumber, Nora has managed to de-pants herself. Like, she went to bed in leggings, and somehow managed to get so comfortable that she fell into a deep enough sleep to take off her pants without even realizing it.
If that's not the highest compliment you can give to an airline experience what is, right?
Except this lovely airberlin plane does not have partitions between business class patrons, and well, Nora is basically offering a free show to the entire cabin. The flight attendants do their best to keep the creepy old dudes from enjoying themselves too much, but finally one woman decides enough is enough.
Nora wakes to find the kind flight attendant attempting to cover her, which Nora mistakes for being kidnapped. Remember, she's still blind-folded by her eye mask, and also haunted by the spirit of Liam Neeson since her mom's insistence that she watch Taken like five times as "self-defense training" so Nora can't help but instinctively throw a few elbows.
Luckily she's too groggy to do much damage - besides hooking that sweet flight attendant's earring into her blanket, but hopefully it'll grow back together - but thank God no one misconstrues the ruckus as a terrorist threat. Nora saw a documentary about it once, and now wrongful foreign imprisonment is like her number one fear... Except showing up back home as the last single girl. It's a toss up. And yes, Nora does know she's the definition of #firstworldproblems, thank you very much. But she can't help it, she is an American girl with problems. Or, we should she was.
As the plane touches down in the flat, green land of Germany, Nora makes a promise to herself to embrace this new opportunity for self-improvement.
“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day, it’s a new life for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I’m feeling good.”
Or maybe that's just Nina Simone singing into her ear.
After strong-arming her massive suitcases off the conveyer belt, Nora makes her way outside to a parade of yellow Mercedes. Oh, those are taxis? This place is cray.
The cab makes its way through the outskirts of the city into what used to be East Berlin, the area where Nora booked her (company funded!!) Airbnb. When Nora suggested the idea of getting an Airbnb instead of the traditional suite at the corporate housing hotel, Ulla thought it was “innovative thinking.”
Nora “Innovative Thinking” Randall, reporting for duty.
And on official lookout for Mr. Innovative Thinker, she might add. Now that she's here, it's never too early to start looking. Nora grabs her phone to see if she can login onto Tinder here. Surely it has to be more civilized in Europe, right?
Nora begins singing Taylor Swift’s Blank Space. The taxi driver turns up the radio. Point taken. (But he does change it to American Top 40 so maybe he’s just trying to be helpful?)
The buildings out the window are so beautiful they give pause to Nora’s daydream. Painted every color of the pastel rainbow, they look like Martha Stewart had commissioned their placement as an homage to popsicles on a warm summer day.
And the trees! Nora was not prepared for the amount of green she’s seeing. Why had no one ever told her how beautiful Berlin is?
Is love at first sight actually real?
The taxi pulls up in front of a building a little off the beaten path. Nora double checks the number. Yep, this is it. The cab driver unloads the bags as Nora counts out her Euro bills to pay him.
“Still getting used to this monopoly money. I keep thinking it's fake!”
He does not acknowledge her. He hands her back a two Euro coin as her change, but she refuses.
"No, it's a tip!"
A smile spreads across his face matching Nora’s own. “Danke shoen!”
It occurs to Nora that maybe she can just do what she did in college - buy her friends - but what is the German adult equivalent of a sorority? Nora will have to start researching yoga studios in the neighborhood.
Speaking of friends, Heidi just texted that she had to take a last minute trip to visit her family in West Germany, but she’ll be back soon. No worries, of course, our girl Nora will be just fine settling in by herself. She survived moving to New York, after all!
Nora dials her host Marco to let him know she’s here, but before she can figure out which international code to type -001? 100? - to get the call to go through, Marco pulls up on his bicycle.
“Welcome to Berlin!” he says while grabbing one of her bags. “You’re going to love it here.”
They climb the stairs to the fourth floor, which is technically only the third floor because Europeans are crazy, and Marco unlocks the door. Pushing it wide for Nora to enter, Nora holds her breath as she walks in.
The first thing she notices is the blue ceiling that she fell in love with from the Airbnb listing. This ‘flat’ is something she’d heart-ed so hard, and now it would be her home for the next six months. HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
Marco points out the bedroom on the left as well as the living room and office in the adjoining room. The bathroom and kitchen on the right. The stove, sink, washing machine - wait what? - Germans wash their clothes in the kitchen? Nora’s mind is blown.
Marco does his best to explain the intricacies of Germany’s uber-green recycling program. He points out the window to the row of bins, all with a unique purpose, but Nora can't even.
Marco realizes he's wasting his time, hands her a binder full of info, and heads out. Nora pushes around her suitcases into the bedroom, contemplates unpacking, and five seconds later, is dead asleep on the bed.
Jet lag is a real thing, y’all.
Nora eventually makes it up and out of the house, forcing herself to take that first bite of Berlin. Although her mind and body feel like they’re living on different planets, she relishes in this 24-hours of first impressions. She knows eventually everything around her will start to feel like home, but she wants to capture the refreshing feeling of exploring a place for the first time.
...And she wants everyone to know she's having THE BEST TIME EVER!! #IGOTTHIS :)