Tuesday night I got back from work at about 10:00 p.m. and went straight to calling Delta Airlines. I had been calling at least twice a day since Saturday night to see if they had any official word of the impending national strike that would take place in Spain on Thursday that would allow only 40% of international flights to depart. It took about an hour but when it was all said and done I had a ticket booked for the morning, without any fees or penalties. At that point I rushed to contact all of my students whose classes I had to cancel for Wednesday and worked on packing. Since I am without a doubt the world’s slowest packer, I ended up getting about four or five hours of sleep before I woke up, ran to the ATM to take out the rent to leave for my roommate and hopped a cab to the metro. I made it to the station just 5 minutes before the train was leaving for the airport and thankfully didn’t have to wait around 30 minutes for the next one.
The Delta flight home was one of the best I’ve ever had. I felt like I entered bizarro world what with the ample leg room in coach, individual video players with an amazing variety of movies and TV shows and not only edible meals, but good ones. After taking a short nap, I started the journey with a romantic comedy that I really enjoyed, “Larry Crowne,” that stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. The message that you can reinvent yourself definitely resonated with me. Then I made the poor decision of watching Sarah Jessica Parker and Greg Kinnear’s “I Don’t Know How She Does It” – the story of a woman trying to balance work and family and being vilified for it, while the same old unfair message that men are looked at as heroes for making the same decisions. Next I watched Brad Pitt’s “Moneyball” and really liked the story, much better than the book, in fact. My choices were only limited by the fact that my remote control refused to scroll to the right and after when it became too frustrating I gave up and took a short nap. For the last hour of the flight I watched part of an episode of “Parks and Recreation,” and then began the movie, “30 Minutes or Less” starring Jesse Eisenberg. I’ll probably live without seeing the rest of the movie, but it was entertaining. As for the food, it was the first time in as long as I can remember that I actually ate the “entrée.” The salad with chicken and cabbage with a Thai peanut sauce was surprisingly good. An hour before landing there was a snack of margherita pizza (that was actually better tasting than any of the pizza I have tried in Barcelona) and an ice cream cup. I can’t stop wondering how they were able to keep the pizza hot and ice cream cold while serving it to hundreds. And finally, the best part of all, was that the 9 hour and 1 minute flight from Barcelona to Atlanta ended up taking only about 8.
When I finally made it to O’Hare, I picked up my luggage and headed to the curb to wait for my dad. I didn’t have a cell phone to use in the U.S. and yet, even with a delay from Atlanta to Chicago, I waited for less than a minute when we easily met up. With a tear flowing from my eye, we hugged like we hadn’t seen each other in six months and it felt great to be home.