Landing on a runway in Chicago, and I’m grounding all my dreams of ever really seeing California cuz I know what’s in between – lyrics from fellow Chicagoans Fall Out Boy, “Homesick at Spacecamp”
From my mother, I take my gift of gab and my neuroticism. From my father, a good sense of direction and a heightened need for adventure. My mother balks at airports, while my father arrives early, boarding pass in hand, ready to be onto his next journey. I’m much more of the latter.
I’m waiting in the airport in Dublin, having a Guinness at 10:45 in the morning (any wonder why I identify with my Irish heritage more than any other?). There are other travelers in American apparel – Chicago Blackhawks t-shirts or Illini caps join me for an Irish breakfast or coffee. I choose a seat at the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the boarding gates, slowly draining my breakfast while watching passengers wheel bags onto Aer Lingus jets. I admit it – I am one to people watch, and I often wonder where they are off to, whom they might be visiting, or if they’re simply going home, like me.
Twenty months have passed since I’ve last been in America. In that time I’ve turned 25, gotten married, received a promotion, become an EU citizen. I’m different, and so are my friends at home. They’re married, divorced, engaged, with child(ren). Some heartbroken, many hopeful. My sister has moved away from the Midwest, leaving my parents totally absorbed in what were merely hobbies while we were at home. Time sometimes seems to stop for me in Spain, when in fact it carries on at an even quicker pace than last year. My Great Aunt Mary Jane always has that toilet paper mentality – time, along with the TP, go faster and faster the further you get into it.
Not 48 hours after touching down, I am sitting in the dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned. Dr. Clinton has moved his office from Northwest Highway Street to just off the highway that leads to O’Hare International Airport. As Carole picks and flosses, I’m watching the planes takeoff through the mirrored windows.
Being back in America makes me think about my own takeoffs and landings. I find that I often jump into one thing, hoping to land on my feet. After all, that’s been the last four years. Everything from learning flamenco in a stuffy studio with a stuffy sevillana to even moving abroad has been a flight of fancy. But it’s so me – neurotically adventurous, typically looking before leaping, taking off frequently and usually landing right where I’m meant to be.