After many (manyyyyy) hours of traveling I am back in the United States, jet lagged and weary but happy. (Yes, happy! It’s true, wonderfully true)
My friend Talal graciously drove me to the airport last Friday morning as I lumped my massive suitcases into the airport. I was sad to be leaving 3 days before Ramadan ended (because that party is a spectacle to behold, or so I’ve been led to believe) but it was time, and I was ready. Or, ready as I ever am to leave a place and people I love dearly.
But I did it. Made it through security, into the plane, cried when the plane reached Iceland because that was the halfway point and at that moment I desperately needed the plane to turn around and go back, back to my apartment, my friends, my gleeful unemployment, the comfortable discomfort of life in the Middle East. But it didn’t, and I landed in Chicago to the smell of McDonald’s (‘smells like America!’ quipped a pilot on the escalator behind me. Sad.), eyes crossed from a lack of sleep and too many movies and a customs line that reached to high heaven.
Exhaustion was briefly staved off by a cup of bad airport coffee, and I was soon winging my way through the skies once again to Denver. I’m eternally afraid that this trip will be the trip my bags spill all over the airport because of a faulty zipper and my habit of over packing, but today was not that day!
My old college roommate picked me up and I stayed overnight with other former roommates before awaking, completely confused about the time and the day, to visit my old coffee shop (So good! So cute!) and pick up Bus Guy’s car (oh yes, he’s still in the picture!) to drive back to the airport and pick him up.
Let me just say that there are few better things in this world than seeing someone you love, who somehow miraculously still loves you, after half a year and finally getting to hug the ever-loving sh*& out of them.
Needless to say we packed many adventures in the short amount of time I had in Denver!
We hit a Rockies game and enjoyed a win, good beer and good seats. We waited in the longest ice cream line I’ve ever seen, made friends with the family from Iowa behind us, and when the mother jokingly asked for a taste of our ice cream so she could decide what flavor she wanted we both turned around, cones extended.
Like, who does that?! Between Bus Guy and Denver my depths of patience, happiness, and friendliness (apparently) has shot up to ‘offering strangers a taste of your ice cream’ levels. Maybe it’s the jet lag, but maybe it’s not.
We drove up to Glenwood Springs (a beautiful drive), rented bikes and rode along the river as far as we felt like going. We ate dinner at a delightful southern food joint which ended in a food coma and a powdered sugar fight from the beignets, enjoyed great beer and retired to the hot springs where some of the tiredness in my body and soreness of my muscles went away, at least for awhile.
We drove back to Denver, past the beauty of Red Rocks and into the city that is home to me in many ways. I got a margarita at my favorite restaurant downtown.
All too soon we were on our way to the airport, a typical Denver summer thunderstorm pounding the car with rain. A tornado warning came on the radio and as we left the car, bags in tow, the sirens were wailing. No one seemed to be too worried, though, but as we walked into DIA security whisked us into a tornado shelter (aka the stairwell, which I chose over the bathroom option).
One traveler sarcastically asked the security guy if it was ok to leave our bags unattended just this once… his commentary didn’t seem to be appreciated! We were told that a tornado had touched down near the airport and we were stuck down there for about 20 minutes, which isn’t how I intended on saying goodbye to Bus Guy.
Planes were delayed, tensions were high, and goodbyes have never been my strong point anyways. After navigating through the checkout line* and calling my mother to inform her of the delay we relaxed, just for a bit, not looking forward to leaving after such a short, wonderful time.
But I got on the plane again, and made it to Seattle where my family was waiting. Having awesome people on the other side of wherever you are going really does make a world of difference.
More stories of the small town variety coming soon!
*P.S. Frontier Airlines? Can totally suck it. Baggage fees alone were astronomical. I despise domestic airlines.