Monday, August 30, 2010

Waiting in Chicago

I can’t connect to the internet at the Chicago airport (lame), but I don’t want to forget the three hours I’ve been on this adventure thus far, so I’m going to write them down. I promise I won’t blog every three hours once I get there. :)
Last night, I realized that I wasn’t even close to being ready to go. My bags were packed but horribly uneven, my carry-on was strewn across the house, and I teared up every time I looked at my widdle nephew. I stayed up until 1:30 getting everything organized (PS: I have to give a shout-out to everyone who texted me last night to wish me good luck. It really meant a lot!), then my alarm went off at 4:15. You know from previous posts how I feel about early mornings, but this time I popped out of bed. It turns out that an impending departure from the country prevents sleep. Who knew?
Dad, Mom, Kiss, Rob, Wy, B, Grandma Pat, and Grandpa Bud all accompanied me to the airport. The drive was a little surreal - I felt like I was going home as we journeyed through Cincinnati, but then we just kept on going down to CVG. I think I kept myself in check throughout most of the ride by reminding myself that even when we got there, I still had plenty of time to spend with my family. I checked my bags, and we lined ourselves along the wall, all avoiding eye contact to keep from crying. Kiss passed along Favorite Nephew so I could spend my last twenty minutes holding onto him; every time I’d look at him, I’d tear up (I’m doing it again just thinking about it), and he’d give me his crooked, open-mouthed, toothless grin that I’ve gotten quite accustomed to these past two weeks. When that didn’t work to cheer me up, he opted for puking on my hoodie. Also good.
Grandma Pat reminded me - multiple times - that I really didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to, and Dad offered to take me to Disney World today if I stayed. Without going into too much detail, I went around the circle twice, hugging my family and crying all over them. I have to say, that was hands down the hardest moment of my life.
Security was uneventful, and I found the gate without too many troubles. My plane had already boarded (we took too long to say goodbye, apparently), and I slid on at the last minute. I pulled my camera out and took pictures as the plane launched me away from my home, my family, and my friends.
I spent the first twenty minutes of the flight shaking and sobbing into my sweatshirt. I remember two thoughts going through my head simultaneously: “what the hell am I doing?” and “would I look funny if I put on my sunglasses?” (it was really bright on the plane). I tried to read Mockingjay, which I have been waiting for for MONTHS, and I couldn’t focus at all. I must be a glutton for punishment because I ran through all my goodbyes, one by one, and cried about them again. Not the most productive way to spend time.
Eventually, my childlike delight in air travel took over, and I stared out the window. I found animals in the clouds, made up stories for the teeny tiny people below, and watched the wing right outside my window. I swear the thing was moving. I know that planes don’t actually have to flap to stay in the air, but I swear to you, that wing was moving up and down. Don’t give me that crap about angles and perspective - I saw what I saw, and my plane was flapping.

By the time we pulled into Chicago, I was actually starting to feel excited again. The flight attendant came over the speaker and announced where everyone’s connecting flights could be found. “If you’re heading to Denver, you’ll be at gate H12. If you’re heading to Palm Beach, you’ll be at gate D4...” I was bouncing in my seat, biting my tongue to keep myself from shouting “but what about ASIA, Ms. Flight Attendant? Where do you go if you’re moving to ASIA?!” She didn’t announce my flight, but I apparently decided that it didn’t matter, so I didn’t bother to ask directions. Hehe, do you see where this is going?
I trotted off the plane, my carry-on in tow, and wandered around the terminal. Seriously, just wandered. I wandered up and down the American Airlines terminal a few times before I finally realized that maybe, just maybe, my Korean Air flight may be elsewhere. I rounded a corner and started reading signs. The international terminal was number 5, and I was in number 3, and I couldn’t find a single sign that pointed toward where I needed to be. What I DID find was a sign that said “Children’s Museum”. I stood under that sign for a good minute or two, debating whether the museum would be a worthwhile venture. While I was pondering this, a man about my dad’s age walked up and commented on my hoodie (not the puke; the fact that it said Miami). He said his daughter also went there... blah blah small talk... then he asked if I was lost. I proudly told him I was considering the Children’s Museum instead of my flight (and his opinion of my sanity plummeted). He offered to show me where I needed to go, so I said goodbye to the museum and headed off toward terminal 5.
When I finally found my gate (where I’m sitting as I type this), I checked the internet connection to try to text my fam to let them know I’m safe. My computer wouldn’t connect (well, it would have for ten dollars, but I’m cheap), so I headed off in search of lunch instead. In the American Airlines terminal, I walked past a McDonald’s, a Starbucks, and Wolfgang Puck, but here, the only option was the over-priced sandwich station. I begrudgingly forked over ten bucks for a tortilla and some chicken, and got a handful of quarters to try the pay phone. I can’t remember the last time I used a pay phone for real, and my daddy didn’t even answer. I figured he was the most likely to have his phone on him, but apparently he wasn’t able to get to it fast enough, so I left a message and ate my chicken tortilla thingy.
That brings me to right now. I’m surrounded by the people I’ll be spending the next thirteen hours with (I’m going to try to start a sing-a-long, I think), and I’m writing an unnecessarily long blog post in the form of a word document. All my updates will arrive at the same time on my blog, but rest assured, they were written throughout the trip!

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