But There’s a Light on in Chicago

And I know I should be home.

I discovered Fall Out Boy my freshman year of college when meeting another band put them on while cruising around the Chicago suburbs one night. I was drinking and loved the punk feel that night. Their song, Chicago is So Two Years Ago, was played on repeat the last week of my freshman year. I was burnt out from school and partying, ready for a little break and to once again become Nancy’s slave.

I mean, I worked two jobs and for my mother, but I was at home. I find this song creeping back into my consciousness as I countdown the days until preschool ends, camp begins, and I fly from Dublin to Chicago on August 1st.

It’s been officially 18 months and nine days since I was last on the North American continent. In that time I’ve gotten work papers, traveled to two more countries, directed a summer camp, technically became a blissful bride, met 154 small humans who have become my babies, seen friends off as they move back home. I’ve done a lot, and I’ve had fun. But I need America.

Jackie’s visit a few weeks ago brought things into perspective. Being first-generation American, she gets to hold on to her Mexicanness even in Chicago. Her complaints about the lack of spiciness in Spanish food proved that fact really quickly, and she pointed out a lot of oddities and annoyances about Spain and Spanish life that, well, I had kind of just gotten used to. I started thinking, maybe I’m over it, or maybe I just need a big dollop of America.

I am not-so-secretly making a bucketlist of things I need to do once back in America. These things include:

Drink a lot of margaritas. I miss them.

Wrigley Field.

Eat as many Chicago-style hot dogs as my stomach can hold. And sweet corn. Gah, Iowa.

Say goodbye to my dear doggy, Morgan, who at 16.5 years is still as stubborn as she was as a puppy.

Travel to Louisville to see my sister (and hopefully wear my ascot at Churchill Downs!).

Lots of dates with mom, lots of beers with dad.

Sit outside and not worry about the heat.


Driving a car, even if it is Nancy’s van.

Ethnic food.

I don’t think home is calling me too strongly yet, but I need some air. I need a big hug from my mom, too. Mostly, I need to reassure myself that all of this is a good idea, that Spain is where I need to be, and that I want to be there, too. August 1st can’t come fast enough, that’s for sure, but I know the short amount of time back home will be all too fast.

One thing I will miss about Europe? They don’t tip.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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