When I landed in Ireland from Seattle, I had 15 hours in Dublin before jetting off to Budapest at 5am.
Between not sleeping well the night before I left Seattle, to not sleeping well on the plane ride over, I was running on empty by the time I landed in Dublin.
Adrenaline did the trick for a while as far as giving me that second burst of energy. It had been years since I’d visited, and everything came flooding back, from the kindness of the people to being able to just get lost down streets and finding cool things around each corner.
But as I sat down at Trinity College taking a break and waiting for my former roommate from my days in Australia, Elaine, to finish up at her job, I felt the lack of sleep in my bones.
Finally, Elaine and I crossed paths, grabbed some dinner and caught up on our lives. Then we headed to a pub close to her house, met up with her fiance, and had a few drinks.
When we finally got to their house, it was dark, and anxiety set in.
“We do have an alarm system,” said Elaine, “so you are going to have to run to turn it off once you unlock the door. Otherwise the police show up.”
They sat outside patiently with me while I practiced with the spare key, locking and unlocking the door, easing my anxiety to make sure I could lock them in properly when I left their house at 3am to get a ride to the airport, and that I could let myself in when I returned from Budapest.
I said my temporary goodbyes and goodnights, and went to bed.
And by went to bed I mean I was wide awake in bed all night, adrenaline coursing through my veins, thinking of every possible scenario that would prevent me from missing my ridiculously early flight to Budapest.
I checked my alarm about 50 times that night.
I convinced myself that in checking my alarm, I might have accidentally shut it off, so I checked again.
I wondered if the app for Uber would work on my phone to call a cab.
What if I didn’t wake up when my alarm went off? I’ve picked up this charming new trait when I’m running low on sleep. I manage to shut both of my alarms off in my apartment (yes, I’m that paranoid that I have two separate alarms) without even realizing it and oversleeping for hours. This has resulted in my putting my phone away from my nightstand in the other room so I have to physically get up to turn it off.
Once Ieven managed to “sleepwalk” over to it, shut it off, and wake up hours later with it in bed next to me when I was really exhausted.
So I sat awake all night in a panic. I tried to sleep but my anxiety got the best of me.
Three nights and eight hours of sleep. I prayed I could get a few hours of shut eye on the plane out of sheer exhaustion. At least then someone would have to wake me up to kick me out once we landed.
I called a taxi with no issues, and I panicked while locking up their house at 3am. I triple checked that it was locked and hopped in my cab, ready for the next part of my adventure.
Fast forward a week, and I returned to Dublin fresh as a daisy, well-rested and brimming with stories from my adventures in Budapest.
Elaine texted me “Do you remember the security code? Do you still have your key?”
I’m glad she knows me well enough to know that those would be the two things I would have forgotten in my seven day absence.
“Yes and yes,” I replied. “But have your phone handy in case you need to bail me out of jail.”
The cabbie and I talked the whole way from the airport to Elaine’s house, which isn’t shocking.
We rolled up to the house and he asked if it looked familiar. I said yes.
He asked if he needed to wait until I got inside, clearly hearing in my voice that I really had only been at the house in the dark, and things in daylight look quite different so I could only be so sure of myself.
I told him I would be fine, but I appreciated it.
Right as he pulled away and I was about to put the key in the door I stopped. Something was off.
I was staring at a slim black door handle.
I would have sworn on my life it was white and oval shaped the night I landed there.
I practiced a thousand times while they waited with the patience of saints “no, turn the knob left to lock and right to unlock” or something like that which I’ve clearly already forgotten at this point in time.
I fixated on the black handle, knowing that it was a white handle with a different shape I had triple checked before I got in the cab that morning.
Had I been running on so little sleep that my brain was actually malfunctioning, and I didn’t remember the color of a handle?
I looked around frantically. I’m sure the neighbors were wondering why the hell some American girl was just staring at a door for so long.
I tried to look in the windows, which only made me look more suspicious.
“I KNOW it was white and oval!” I thought to myself.
I sighed and decided just to try the key. If a family answered the door asking what I was doing trying to break into their home, I could just explain I’d made a huge mistake.
I’d prepared Elaine to be my one phone call from jail anyhow, so at least she would be ready.
But the key worked. And the alarm code worked.
I walked around the house suspiciously, like maybe everyone’s homes looked exactly the same on this block with the same door code and the same decorations.
I finally landed on the fact that I picked up yet another new sleep deprived trait: even though I can vividly see it in my mind, my memory apparently makes shit up and is not to be trusted.
When I met Elaine and her fiance after work I told them my tale and they laughed.
“I must’ve been more exhausted than I thought.” I said at the end.
“I changed the door handles,” her fiance laughed. “I did it after you left, but left the locks the same so you could still get in.”
They had a good laugh about me thinking I was crazy, but I was glad that I was still relatively sane after all.