All photos taken by Jalessan.
All photos taken by Jalessan.
I sit by the window on the airplane, watching the black, jagged shape of the wing against the darkening sky, in which indigo blends with a soft baby blue. The night is winning and soon, black will be the only hue on the horizon, punctuated by, perhaps, the twinkling of stars.
How perfect the sky and the world above and below.
Our trip to Chicago is at its end, and we’re on our way home. Like my son says, part of us is happy to be heading home but part of us is sad. Chicago was fun, while it lasted.
I was astounded by the amount of sirens that bellowed throughout the city. Every night, as we wrapped up our day and got ready for bed, or as we lay in bed, waiting for sleep to take us, sires bounced through the windows. In the mornings, too, we’d head the sirens of ambulances and police. Every. Single. Day.
I absolutely loved that we walked everywhere. With the exception of the cab we took to and from the airport, and on Thursday, when it rained (oh yea, and when we went to the Navy Pier since it was a bit farther), we walked. It was wonderful! We’d wrap ourselves up, and start walking, passing others in the same treks. It was lovely seeing so many people, young and old, out and about.
I was equally astounded by the amount of smokers in the city. Everywhere we walked and went, we’d pass by smokers. This got somewhat tiring, though, as we tried to maneuver the sidewalks to get the least possible exposure.
There is amazing history in Chicago, from politics to mafia to immigration.
The hotel in which we stayed, the Renaissance Marriott Blackstone, was perhaps one of the best hotels we’ve visited. The building, over a hundred years old, hosted presidents and mafia lords alike, and a few years ago was bought by Marriott and renovated. It was nicely centered in downtown, an easy 15-minute walk from the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum. The room was spacious, clean, and comfortable. But apart from the logistics of the hotel and room, the people that work at this Marriott made out stay that much more enjoyable. Rory and KoJo were kind and helpful and humored our son with high-fives, fake boxing, and jokes. They, along with Amanda in Concierge, also directed us towards what to see, where to eat, and how to get there. They remembered us, asked us about our day, and again, humored my little man. Every single employee we encountered in that hotel was beyond helpful. We will definitely be returning to that hotel.
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria was amazing. It’s a family owned restaurant on the 800 block of State Street that offers tasty food and a comfortable, quaint environment. Inside, family pictures decorate the walls of the restaurant. The first night we ate there, we had the Chicago-style deep dish pizza with cheese bread and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The second time, we ordered delivery (again, pizza and cheese bread), and it was just as delicious as the first. The third time we ate there, we had a salad, burger, and a beef sandwich. Just as good.
As soon as we land, my son says: I miss Chicago. And I agree, though it is nice to be home. Until the next time.
Today I got to live flying in an airplane through the eyes of my son, and it made me happy. There’s something wondrous about embarking on something new with a child who is old enough to understand what is going on around him but who isn’t old enough to understand what, if any, dangers lurk in that adventure. At four (and going-on-fourteen…), his biggest fears are the dark, monsters, shadows, and the mystery eyeball (still trying to figure that one out)—he knows nothing about plane crashes, so there’s no reason for the fear to take hold of him.
I’m thankful for that because it lets him truly enjoy this miracle of flying.
I love flying, from the speeding up in the runway to the lifting, when I feel the changes in pressure as I marvel at the city below me growing smaller and smaller until the clouds envelop me and I feel close to the edges of the earth. I also love the landing, when the world below grows larger until we jerk forward as the tires touch the pavement.
Do I get nervous? Of course. My godparents passed away in an airplane crash in January of 1990. I was ten. And since then, I remember hearing of plane crashes and seeing the movie based on Eastern’s crash in the Everglades. I know that it can happen, so of course I get nervous. But I also know car crashes happen and that we are less likely to experience a plane accident than we are a car one.
One of the things I refuse to do, though, is let fear reign me. I’ve been on the verge of it, for other reasons, and I hate feeling like that. I’m immobilized, with the weight of impending doom suffocating me until I make the superhuman effort to wrestle that beast out and think of other things, happy things.
And I pray. Whatever resistance I may have with religion, I am still spiritual and I have a strong faith in God and to Him I pray.
Throughout this ride today, on our way to the airport (“Are we there yet?”), as we checked-in our luggage (“Where are they taking our stuff?”) and passed through the security (“Cool!”), boarded the plane, and took off (“That.Was.Awesome!”), I explained what was happening. His excitement was contagious. I hope that excitement never fades and he still finds this adventure as “amazing” and “awesome” as he did today.
We just got back from a weekend trip to Disney World, and though I’m tired (and my shins hurt!), we had a good time. My son, in particular, had so much fun that this morning, as soon as we woke up, asked, “Where are we going to today?” When we reminded him we had to head back home, his response was, “No! I want to live here!”
Sometimes, I wish we could live there, too. As corny as it sounds, whenever I step into one of the four parks, I almost believe that magic does, indeed, happen. I feel like a kid again, going on the rides, seeing the shows, viewing the fireworks and watching the parades. I love taking pictures with the characters and reaching down into that hidden child. Of course, my body doesn’t always make that easy for me, but even with the aches and discomforts, I enjoy it there.
This trip, we only went to two parks: Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (which is a fantabulous –yes, I’m making up words here– trick-or-treating event where kids and grown-ups rock costumes and get a slightly less-crowded time at the park) and Epcot. For Mickey’s Halloween Party, the three of us dressed up as superheroes. My son as Captain America, my hubby as Wolverine, and I as Iron Woman. I’m pretty much a Halloween dork, and I love dressing up, even now. This event is probably one of my favorite’s from Disney.
Out of the parks, Epcot is probably our favorite. The intellectuals in us love all the learning that takes place, and we love “traveling” through the World Showcase. Our trip coincided with the Food & Wine Festival, and I think a marathon of some sort, so the park was packed. As we walked through the countries, we were swept by the sea of people who covered the side walks. There was no way back or forward that didn’t mean weaving through crowds, holding on so we wouldn’t get separated.
My son was now officially tall enough to ride some of the “cool” rides, and I got him on Splash Mountain and Soarin (at the respective parks). He was jumping up and down, giggling, and saying “I love this ride!” before even getting on it. He didn’t like the drop in Splash Mountain, but loved the flying in Soarin.
Here are some pictures we took.
The rain threatens late today. It starts as a low, long rumble as we take an afternoon stroll on the beach. Towards the north, where the land and sea blend together into a solitary line, the dark clouds form shadows of mountain peaks and I almost forget that we’re in Florida’s east coast; there are no mountains here. The rain never comes, though.
The afternoon stroll was a good ending to a good day. I could get used to days like these: taking morning strolls on the beach; building sand castles and watching small shells dig their way back into the sand, far away from us and the birds that feed on them; swimming in the pool, trying out water aerobics; napping after lunch to the sound of the waves coming and going; taking an afternoon drive or walk or just sitting in the balcony, writing. I could absolutely get used to this.
I’ve been productive today, with my writing classes. For my children’s writing workshop, I finished a superhero assignment that I thought would dismantle me. One of my first sketches included Super Mom, whose powers include seeing all (a la having eyes in the back of her head – yes, clichéd, I know) and who constantly battled her nemeses Grumpy Grandma and Know-it-All Friend. A bit lame, and more a platform for a disgruntled mom than a kid’s superhero. Though I might revisit these “characters” even if for a comedic post. What I finally submitted was much better than this. I hope.
In my personal essay workshop, we had a guest author pop in, and it was very interesting. Christine O’Hagan was kind and answered our questions candidly. I always find it helpful to listen to the advice and wisdom of authors who know the ropes, who’ve published in the field I’m interested or tackling. I particularly loved when she said (and I’m paraphrasing) memoirs need to be written with compassion and humor. Compassion and humor – so important. In the process of writing my memoir (and it’s still very much a work in (early) progress), I’ve come to understand that memoir writing is not a vendetta, it’s not the opportunity to get even with someone. Memoir writing is writing without judgement, to understand and make peace with a past and with people in that past. It’s a journey and an exploration about an event (or events) and person (or people) that were significant in life and that, by sharing this experience, others can understand shards of their own lives.
Now, I sit here in the balcony. My son is asleep (finally – no nap today), and my husband is next to me, on his iPad. We’re quiet, and the only sounds that come are from the waves, the breeze, and the keys on my laptop as I’m typing. It’s a beautiful rhythm. Our vacation ends in two days, and I don’t want it to. I want to stay here, in this beach town, indefinitely. I want to get used to this routine.
This time around, I haven’t taken my camera out as much. I’ve been concentrating on relaxing, playing in the sand with my little man, building sand castles by the ocean’s edge, swimming in the pool, napping mid-day. But the few times I did, I got some pretty cool pictures. The best were the coral rocks that jutted out of the coast, at low tide. I had no ideas these rocks existed so close to the shore!