The early ringing of an alarm clock woke us in time for a brisk walk over to Emily’s hotel. During that walk, Chris and I wagered on how likely it was that she would be packed and ready, much less awake. I knocked six different times before I heard any movement on the other side of the door. Finally, a very sleepy Emily peeked her head out, and with a look of surprise, asked what time it was. It didn’t take long for her to kick it into gear and get dressed, while I threw familiar-looking items into her bag.
She had one roommate left in her room, trying hard to sleep through our rummaging around. They said quick goodbyes, we located Chris in the lobby, and quickly hoofed it back to our hotel; for we were trying to get back before Lori and FD left for the airport.
Lori and FD had booked a morning flight back home, while our little family wasn’t scheduled to depart until 8:45 pm. They managed to secure a taxi just minutes after we met them in the lobby; a few goodbye hugs later, and they were off.
We went back up to our hotel room and repacked all of our suitcases for the trip home. After leaving all our belongings in “holding” at the hotel, we headed out for one last day of sight-seeing. We shopped at several clothing stores, a chocolate store (or two), and the largest Toys ‘R Us store we’d ever seen.
We made one last splurge in the city, at Juniors for New York’s best cheesecake. What a treat this was! Emily and I shared a red velvet cheesecake, while Chris and Sid each picked out chocolate delicacies of their own. Truth be told, we could have all shared one piece, those slices were quite large, rich, and incredibly delicious!
Feeling we’d seen everything in NYC that we truly wanted to, we gathered our luggage from the hotel and took a taxi to La Guardia Airport. With at least 3 hours until our flight, we tried to busy ourselves watching planes, watching people, and reminiscing the highlights of our trip. Our gate was changed 3 times, therefore it kept us guessing where we’d actually end up. When finally called to board our flight, we once again had to check all our carry-on bags, as the overhead cargo bins were quite small. We were escorted through the gate, down a flight of stairs, and onto the tarmac where we walked to a bus and were shuttled to our airplane. I remember thinking this just didn’t feel right, stepping off the bus, walking a little further, and climbing a few stairs up into our airplane. For a larger airport, this just seemed strange to me. The cockpit was open, and I was really surprised you could see right in there, especially in this day and age; no apparent security. But then I guess we went through all kinds of security inside, so there you go!
As soon as our plane started moving, a loud creaking noise was quite apparent, directly above the seat behind Chris and Sid. I was “hoping” the creaking was just coming from the overhead bin, but my concern, obviously, was that the plane was coming apart! The lady seated behind Chris found my concern to be entertaining. She kept smiling, and at times she laughed at me when I’d turn my head around and look up in concern. She was very nice though – I think we could have become friends had our seating allowed for better conversing (yes, my friends often do laugh at my silly freak-outs)!
Our flight was a little delayed, as we didn’t take off until 9:30 or so. The pilot alerted us several times to the storms they were flying around, and the turbulence that was to come. I busied myself jotting in my journal, recapping the trip. I just had to convince myself that I wasn’t on a bumpy plane ride with lightning flashing all around. Instead, I was on a bus with terrible suspension on a crappy highway. Yes, it did the trick. I was quite relieved when we landed in Omaha, and the creaky plane had held together; it must have been the overhead bins after all.
Omaha looked almost funny in comparison to Manhattan, for there were only a couple of very tall buildings here, compared to the endless number of skyscrapers in NYC. Arriving at exactly midnight, it didn’t take us long to gather our luggage, and take the first shuttle to our car.
The long drive home was relaxing, especially compared to the turbulence and flashes of lightning we experienced for the last couple of hours on the plane. It was almost like seeing Nebraska for the first time, especially after being in a city crammed with tall buildings, bright lights, and the incessant honking of cars. Although out-of-staters often comment on how flat and wide-open Nebraska is, I never really took notice until this moment; it was such a stark contrast to the scenery we’d taken in over the last week. Seeing for miles and miles, passing through small towns and driving by farmsteads with the single mercury light in the yard; this was comforting, peaceful and inviting!
We found our home to be exactly as we had left it. We unpacked only the essentials, and promptly dropped into bed. As I lay my head down that night, hearing only the distant wail of an early morning train, I pondered this amazing trip we had taken. It was an opportunity – an experience we never would have entertained had it not been for Emily performing at Carnegie Hall. We did something out of the ordinary. Each of us giving up some part of our summer activities to spend this one week in one of the biggest cities in the world. I was thankful for this great adventure. Yet as I lay in the comfort of our bed, in our little bungalow house on the outskirts of our tiny town, I was thankful to be back home. This was the land I was rooted in… this was the place where I belonged.
Thank you for taking this journey with me, your comments are appreciated.