OK story time.
The date was September 19th, 2022. I just got into Porto after a 4 hour bus ride, a trip that preceded with a 3 hour nap because I went out clubbing the night before. I was doing the 20-something year old Eurotrip thing (only between Lisbon and Porto though), going out drinking and having a good time with strangers that I had met at a hostel. I was incredibly fatigued from the lack of sleep and the back to back to back nights of drinking, but I continued on to have a great night by buying a beer at the lobby bar.
‘Lo and behold, nobody was at the bar. I’ve already had like 25 Super Bock’s on this trip, I could hold off. That was until two women came up to the bar. One was a guest and is the main character in this story. We’ll call her Jen. She was about my height, from Quebec City, she had big round eyes like a cat, and thick brown long hair that she tied into a bun or ponytail – tbh I don’t remember. She was a good looking girl. We both got a beer and started talking at the lobby bar. She told me that she used to work in a kitchen as a pro chef until she quit and became an accountant. We bonded over our love for food and working in restaurants. We talked a little bit about our work and what we were doing on this trip. As we were both solo travelers – it was nice having a genuine conversation with someone so friendly.
As the evening went on, the hostel staff were hosting a bar crawl for all the guests. I decided that I was happy to have a 4th night of not sleeping and went upstairs to get my party shirt. If you know me well, you know what my party shirt looks like. But before I went off, I made sure to get her Instagram profile and ask her if she wanted to get dinner the next day. She was interested and we both moved onto socializing with the other hostel guests. It wasn’t really my motive to go on a romantic date. I just thought that it would be fun to go out and have dinner with a cute woman while on vacay.
We’re both doing our own thing as we get ready to head out to the bars. I’m making friends, she’s making friends – it was a good time. I made a friend in a guy named Mark from the Netherlands, he was kind of like a bestie during this leg of the trip. I really enjoyed making his acquaintance and we chopped it up for most of the night until we started going out to the bar. At the first bar, Jen and I start talking a little bit. Really, I was talking to a lot people that we had been friendly with. I opened the night with a Heineken . . . stick to your guns right? Bar was kind of dead, that was until we went to bar number 2. Jen and I start dancing, telling jokes, laughing. It was fun. She asked me about my taste in music, I told her what I tell everyone – if they play Michael Jackson, I’m going to lose it. She runs off to the DJ and tells him to play MJ. This girl was pretty freaking cool. The DJ did not play MJ.
We get to our 3rd and final bar and we spent time only with each other. We danced, got each other drinks, went outside to talk. It was very pleasant. At one point a French 18 year old boy came over, drunk out of his mind trying to find his friends. I don’t know why Jen felt compelled to help him but he did not understand her French at all. He ended up bucking us off and running away. Around 3 am we saunter back to the hostel. We sit on the curb and talk until it’s past 4 am (I think). She asks me about my job and whether I liked it or not. At that point in my life, I was crazy burnt out of my career. I felt like I was always busy doing nothing, I felt like my existence was just to go to work from my basement and that was it. I didn’t see much progression in my position either. It was not the best feeling in the world. But I didn’t want to be too negative so without thinking about it I talk about how fast it is and how challenging it can be, I talk about my coworkers who I enjoy working with, and why advertising is a cool space to work in.
She then says to me it sounds like you really enjoy your job. I was a bit weirded out by her answer because I just told you that at the time, I was mentally not great. In fact, a huge part of this random trip to Portugal was due to me feeling incredibly high levels of anxiety everyday. I asked her why she felt this way and she came to her conclusion by bringing up things that she noticed about me and mentioning things that I mentioned back when we were at the hostel together. At that point I think she kind of figured me out. I didn’t even realize it but she was right. I did enjoy my job – it was just something that I never thought about before. It felt weird, I never had someone talk to me like that before, like they knew me better than I knew me. Well anyways, it was getting late, we had a kiss goodnight and we went on with our days.
OK I’m going to break this up into a series, cuz I realized that this is a long blog. So come back next time and we will continue with this story.