Landing in the Windy City

Chicago spread out under me, in its brown hues, and went on for miles; stretching its long fingers into straight-arrow train tracks which disappeared in the horizon. I would have gawked more had the turbulence getting onto the landing strip not made me want to start praying for my life. The plane was shaking violently, changing the otherwise uneventful trip into a hair raising end.

I hate flying. I love travel. Unfortunately for poor, winey me I need to utilize air travel to get where I want to go if I am going to go anywhere interesting. I suck it up when I get really nervous as the plane hits a couple bumps in the air and tell myself that there are people who fly all the time, like, it’s their job and they’re not scared when the metal bird hits a couple heavy gusts: why should I be? I can no more keep the plane up in the air with my passionate pleas about being a better person than anyone else (including those flying the damn thing, if a wing flies off then we’re all fucked, right?) So, I try to relax.

I’ve only been to Chicago once, and that was two years ago. I went for a couple days to see the friends I am visiting again on this trip. At the time I was with my best friend who dutifully held my hand when the flight got rough and who I spent the majority of the trip with while my local friends participated in their daily routines. This time, I’m flying solo.

Honestly, I’d consider myself a “partner” traveller. I really enjoy spending time with someone and gaining shared experiences with that person as we travel together. Road trips are great for that kind of thing. In fact: I never travel alone. The only time I traveled alone was when I flew to Italy, but even when I did that I was met at the airport by my sister and then pretty much spent the next two weeks operating around her schedule. During the day while she was at school I would wander and explore Florence, writing everything on my mind down on to the pages of my journal which I promptly filled with a lot of anxious thoughts about what it means to be alone.

As I sat in the terminal at LaGuardia airport I came across a twitter account of a solo gal who was bravely traveling across India and the World. She had posted another blog post about taking a bus trip to Spiti, India which I read with a sense of awe. Here was a woman who had decided to leave her life in the 1st world and started traveling. Alone. How brave! That means that this person had to decide where to go, how to get there, what she would do once she was there, etc, all on her own! I think that’s why I love traveling with people, because of that discussion and perspective that the other person can bring to the plans.

I’m inspired, though. I’ve been to India, but with a group, and I am so impressed she did it alone. India is a helluva big place full of very foreign experiences and people, which can be very overwhelming even to a group (like the one I was in back in 2008 when I went for 6 weeks).

Here’s to Chicago: a city very similar to New York, but thrilling nonetheless. I’m not here to find out where the fingers of those train tracks head to, but I am excited about wandering around on my own, this blog to keep me company. Oh, and also to see the really bitchin’ improv show my buddy reserved us tickets for tomorrow night.

April 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm by Natalie Allen