I woke early the next morning. Finished packing, made sure Austyn was feeling better and headed out the door. At the corner I grabbed a taxi, which took me to the Blue Line that took me right into O’Hare. Owning a car is not an essential part of life in the city.
The business of the last 24 hours had prevented me from spending too much time thinking about this trip. It wasn’t until I was on the plane that my mind slowed down enough to reflect.
As I boarded the plane I recalled the flight I had made eighteen years earlier. I had boarded a plane in Charlotte, NC for a similar trip. Jeff had accepted a position that brought us to the Chicago area and for some reason I was given the sole responsibility to find a place to live… in one weekend. I had not flown much and was nervous about the flight. I was meeting a realtor and hopefully finding a home for our young family. The housing market between Charlotte, NC and Wheaton, IL was light years apart. Our three bedrooms, 2 and a half bath condo had been purchased for $45,000 only five years earlier. This weekend I would be looking at starter homes at $125,000. Not only were the price tags high but so was the cost of living. We couldn’t afford either, but we were going to give it a shot.
On that flight, I remember sitting next to an older businessman. We had talked briefly during the flight. When I told him that we were moving to the suburbs he paused and then told me not to do it. “The cost of living will kill you”, I remembered him saying. What would life be like now if we had taken that advice?
I spent the remainder of this flight reflecting on the last eighteen years. By the time the flight landed in Phoenix I was a bit melancholy. I had a fifty minute layover in Phoenix, just enough time to get a bite to eat and board the plan to San Luis Obispo. The last leg of the flight is just over an hour. I had an aisle seat but tried to peer out the window as often as possible.
I took note of the people on the plane. Were they returning to San Luis? Were they visiting? Some were dressed in Western garb, boots, hat, and vest. I was hoping to get a glimpse into the people that call San Luis home. We were about to make the final descent.
After we landed we taxied for a bit. The plane came to a stop and we were still on the tarmac. I hadn’t been at an airport this small since I was in high school. We exited the plane, some passengers were heading into the building, and others were waiting for what I assumed was luggage. I waited as well. Mostly, I was looking around. Airports are rarely in the most beautiful part of cities and this one was surrounded by rolling hills. Jeff had said rural but this is not what I pictured.
After I was informed that the passengers waiting at the plane were waiting for carry on bags, I was directed to go into the airport to wait for luggage. I must have looked like a first time flier, completely lost which I was. Seven hours earlier I had stepped out of my apartment, hailed a cab, rode the Blue Line and made my way through O’Hare airport. Now I was walking into a small brick building in the middle of what looked like no where. Where were we?
I stood in line for the car rental. After completing all the paperwork I inquired as to what we needed to do when we returned the car since our flight was at 6:30am. She told me that we would be leaving the car in Lot 3. Lot 3? This airport is so small that it only has one airplane on the tarmac at any given time yet they have three lots? This was going to be interesting.