Monday, June 22, 2009

The Art of the Layover: Chicago

Those of you who read Brett's post "The Art of the Layover" know that our travels this year taught us how to appreciate a seven hour stopover in strange environs. No more do we fear the foreign metro map, the chance of getting stuck at security and missing our flight, the questioning stares of the passport officials as we explain that we are entering their country for just three hours.

Our layover experiences in Frankfurt and Milan prompted me to spend yesterday's lengthy wait in Chicago, in Chicago. I simply passed through customs, through baggage claim, up an escalator, onto an airport tram, onto the blue line metro, onto the blue line bus, and boom! There I was in the friendly city! 

I had been awake for almost twenty four hours, and the fraying straps of my shoulder bag were cutting through me with the weight of a day's worth of plane entertainment and snack miscellany.  But Chicago proved worth it. I ambled down State Street - smiling to see so much that was familiar after so long abroad - then down along Lake Michigan and through Millenium Park. 

It felt strange at first to be back in the U.S., but even stranger - and nice - to realize how much I had in common with the people I was seeing. They smiled at me, they dressed like me, they sat in the Corner Bakery and Jamba juice eating my favorite foods, ran through fountains in swimming suits, rollerbladed along the lake as I have been dreaming of doing for a year. Amusingly, I still had a slight outsider feeling as I have been gone doing different things for a long time. Funny that being American makes me an outsider abroad, and living abroad makes me feel a bit outside in America. But I think that will pass quickly, as it has also begun to do abroad. I'm going for a smooth blend - just like the one I had at Jamba Juice before heading back to the airport...


judy baker said...

Betsy, Joe & I have been to Chicago, and actually have friends who live a block from the "mirror bean". It is such a cool place to visit!! Loved your pics. Judy

Bruce said...

I love that idea that you're going for a smooth blend. I also was entranced in my last visit to Chicago with the small kids in particular who were tripping through the water in Millenium Park. I took several short videos there.