I spent Thanksgiving and the weekend following in northern Illinois at my sister-in-law's parents' house. The holiday was great and delightfully lazy: with the exception of some minimal exercise, I passed much of the time eating, lounging, and playing board and card games with the others assembled there.
On Sunday, the Wilska portion of the clan went to O'Hare en masse, and my westward travel meant I was the last one to fly out, which meant spending the vast chunk of the day at the airport. I didn't mind at first, as Greg got me into a waiting lounge, where I was able to sit in front of a fire and sip wine while contentedly working away on my book. But then 7 p.m. rolled around, the lounge closed, and I was spit out with my fellow travelers.
And then things went downhill: a short delay turned into a longer one, which turned into loading us all onto a plane only to unload us 45 minutes later because of mechanical issues with the aircraft, and a terminal change, and a plane change, and all told two hours gone.
Then downhill again: the moment the pilot sounded his ding to indicate that we had reached the altitude at which tray tables and seat backs could be adjusted, the guy in front of me put his seat all the way back. Because this fellow was quite tall--probably somewhere in the 6'5" range (and yes, I did feel for him: it must suck to try to fold that size body into a tiny coach class seat)--he managed to push his seat even farther back than it would otherwise go, giving me about 6 inches of space. For the entire 5 hour flight.
I was so exhausted and tired of traveling that I feared I might lose it and burst completely into tears or run screaming through the aisle. I didn't, but just sat there and tried to sleep. In that space of semi-consciousness, I started thinking about putting a stop to Thanksgiving travel away from the west coast, and focusing more on building the holiday up to be something special for me in my own city, rather than always going elsewhere. It's an interesting consideration, because where does the stress and strain of traveling to or from somewhere start to outweigh the pleasure of actually being there? That point almost came for me on Sunday night.
But then, finally, we were on the ground at SFO, and the tall dude put his seat back up, and I walked out of the terminal and directly into the waiting, open arms of my boy, who drove me home and put me to bed. And as much as I enjoyed my time away, I am so glad to be back--so intensely, powerfully glad to be back.