Sweet home, Chicago

Anglotopia Day 24 – Time to say good-bye 

It was a little bittersweet as I made my way to Heathrow that final morning in London. The skies were bright and blue, sunshine warming the landscape, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to leave. I’d gotten to know London in a new way, and I respected the city and enjoyed its alleys, parks, palaces, markets and the in between.

I was bound for Iceland first, to Rek-ah-whatever – several people around me gave up on pronouncing it correctly and one person was sure I was saying it incorrectly – on Icelandair. I landed there, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and joined the crush of individuals in the terminal where at least four or five US/Canada bound flights were all leaving about the same time. Icelandair doesn’t serve food on board, so I stocked up on skyr (Icelandic yogurt), licorice candies (freaking addicting for no reason), a smoked salmon sandwich, and diet Coke. That should be enough to get me through an eight hour flight to Chicago.

So, we were about to land at O’Hare Airport when, all of a sudden, instead of touching the runway, our pilot pulled an Air Force commando move and drug us back up to the sky. Confused as hell, we all looked around at each other, worried about what was going on.

Then, they finally announced, as we circled back around Chicago’s skyline and lakefront, re-approaching O’Hare, that the runway had been too busy to land. That was really concerning since we had nearly landed. I do not want to know what we adverted that day.

To top it off, a massive thunderstorm was moving toward the airport, and before we could hook up to the gate and let everyone off the plane, our later landing time meant that we were taxied up and made to wait on the plane. The thunderstorm hit, a black wall of clouds and rain, and the wind whipped around the plane, shaking it back and forth like a toy in the hands of an angry child.


After another forty minutes sitting there, we were finally given a gate and allowed off the plane. That was a relief, as my family was waiting for me just beyond the Customs doors.

I was glad to be safely on the ground once more.

Midwestern summers … they are glorious things of art, I have to say.

First of all, I hadn’t been home to Chicago for two years in the summertime, so I tossed my shoes off the first chance I could and ran across the thick, dewy green grass of our lawn. That’s not something you can much of in Asia, as, well, snakes and fire ants make that a little dangerous.

Then, there are the fireflies. They pop out of the grass as soon as the sun begins to set, glowing softly in the damp parts of the yard, ripe for the catching. Nothing compares to letting a lightning bug crawl across your hand and then set off to spark more.

Barbeques are set up all over, and lazy smoke curls in the air around backyards, with steaks, chicken, ribs, pork chops, and, of course, bratwursts all sizzling away. Everything smells so damn good – and it makes you hungry. With the barbeques comes corn on the cob, liberally slathered with butter and salt, creamy potato salad, sweet and sour cole slaw, and more ketchup than a fake horror movie scene can use.

While I did not get home in time for the Fourth of July – I spent that in a pub, surrounded by other celebrating Americans in England – I can remember watching the fireworks from our driveway, the sky lighting up with colors and booms as loud as cannons. Every now and then, though, someone would let loose with leftover Fourth of July fireworks, sending up shouts and cracks.

Most mostly, I love the cooler evenings when a storm rumbles on the horizon, splitting the sky apart with lightning and cracking the air with thunder. I can stand in the yard and watch the clouds blow up high, dragging the storm on its heels, and wait for the rains to come.

I had missed these summers.

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