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Leavin’ on a Jet Plane


I’m going home.

Or rather, going back to the place that used to be home. I’m attending a conference in Chicago next week for a couple of days and am leaving early so I can spend the weekend with my parents and celebrate my Dad’s birthday with movie popcorn and Star Wars. (He took me to see all of the original Star Wars movies when I was little. We had a mutual affection for R2D2.)

I don’t get back to Illinois that often. And this time I get to see both my hometown AND downtown Chicago. Love ’em both. Although I’ve been warned that it’s very hot and sticky there. And coming from Fog City, I’m not so good with the hot and the sticky anymore.

I get to see a few old friends while I’m back, but since I’m only there for a few days and much of my time is taken up with the conference, I don’t get to see everybody. So if I’m there and I miss you, I’ll take a rain check for next time.

I find that each time I go back, I’ve forgotten one more detail. The name of a freeway. Directions to a friend’s house. How to survive the humidity. The details get fuzzy from disuse.

Everything looks smaller, too. The school I spent 13 years in is so shabby and miniscule! It’s difficult to believe how much time I spent within those walls.

I find myself hoping that I’ll run into people I used to know. And that they’ll have a hard time recognizing me. Sometimes I hang out at the Super Walmart (small town social center) a bit longer than is really necessary, just in case I recognize an old face. There’s a certain ex I would LOVE to run into, just for curiosity’s sake. I haven’t seen him since we broke up, oh, seven years ago or so. It would be interesting. Or maybe just horrifying.

But whatever happens, I’m determined to get my fill of Dairy Queen (they don’t have DQ in San Francisco) and some real Chicago pizza (West Coast pizza is very sadly lacking). I’m hoping to catch a good midwestern, too. (They don’t have thunderstorms in San Francisco, either.) Rain, yes, but without the bright violence of lightning and the shuddering rumble of thunder.

My dad and I used to sit in the swing on the front porch and watch the rain move in across the fields. Count the beats between the flash and the roar.

Sometimes my sister and I would run screaming through puddles, lifting our faces to the weeping sky and shrieking, fiercely, with the simple joy of being alive, being young, being completely soaking wet.

Just a few of the details that have not yet gone fuzzy.

-Lo, who knows how to make the ice cream curl on a Dairy Queen cone. Years of practice.

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