It took four flights and 26 hours to get back to Bama. It cost just shy of a thousand dollars, plus an overnight on a bench in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. It took all this and more to finally get back to the Heart of Dixie, back to my Momma’s arms.
I’ve lived in Alaska for “only” six years, but whenever I venture back to the Lower 48, it's still sometimes overwhelming. Don't get me wrong - I love the travel and hustle and bustle of big cities. But I’m comfortable in Alaska now. Comfy with the community and low crime and no traffic. Relaxed in the simplicity and minimalism of the Last Frontier.
Yet on Sunday, I found myself navigating Chicago O’Hare International Airport – and it was an assault on the senses. Crowds rushing everywhere. The smell in the air of fried chicken and gyros and bubble tea. Florescent lights reflecting on slick tile floors. Beeps, thuds, and foreign languages around every corner.
There was the Swabian family, worried they weren't going to make their connecting flight to Frankfurt. And the couple from Minsk, beyond excited about spending their holiday in Vegas.
And then there was me, just a happy and anxious Alaskan, wide-eyed with wonder... and thrilled to be going home for the holidays.