Another successful visit to my home town has sadly come to a close.
I arrived on July 20th ago, shaken at the reminder of what American domestic airline travel entails. I had flown United from Zurich to Newark which was wonderful, but Newark to Chicago involved delays and hours on the tarmac. I exited O’Hare Airport, walking into a sauna, I mean, the humid Chicago summer heat, and hugged my parents tight. We headed over to my sister’s right away so I could start the endless snuggle fest with my nephew, Adrian. He had grown so much since I last saw him, but with the power of technology and digital photos, I didn’t feel like I had missed any of it. To my joyous surprise, he seemed remarkably comfortable with me right away. Maybe it was from all of those times I had screamed “this is your Auntie!” at my sister’s stomach when pregnant. He clearly recognized my voice.
As can be imagined, in 10 days time, there was a lot of ground to be covered with friends and family. Thursday and Friday I spent at my downtown office, catching up with co-workers and eating way too much Chipotle. Thursday after work, my best friend Ashley and I got the chance to catch up over drinks. Ashley is my friend that hosted the gorgeous wedding in Wisconsin last August.
The highlights from the rest of my visit included:
My dad hosted a 60th birthday/retirement party. My aunts and uncles from all sides came to my parents house and I got to catch up with all extended family at once. The best part about Friday night (aside from my tipsy father’s humor when opening presents) was that my brother and his girlfriend arrived for a family filled weekend.
Saturday was spent with the family, swimming in my parent’s pool and lounging about. That evening, my father was my date to my dear friend Francesca’s wedding. It was held downtown at the top of the Wyndham, and we had an incredible view of that night’s thunderstorm. My heart swelled with happiness at the marriage of my dear friend. It was also another opportunity to be together with some of my best high school friends. We call ourselves the “guidettes” – 3 Italian-American gals that went to rival Catholic grammar schools and became besties when in high school. Aside from the guidette mini-reunion, one of the best parts of the evening was the flower girl approaching my father to “play with her”. Clearly my dad has a way with children. A big congrats to Francesca and Jeff!
Sunday my sister hosted Adrian’s baptism, and I was honored to be his God mother. He was so well-behaved during this very long day. He was a champ when they poured the water on his head, and allowed all the aunts and uncles to pass him around at his party afterwards. It was a great opportunity to catch up with all of my aunts, uncles, in-laws and Grandfather as well. Plus it was such a treat to eat crazy amounts of sugar in the form of Adrian’s baptism cake – yum!!!
Monday I was back in the office and was pleased to have woken up to the presence of my brother, who’s Sunday night flight back to New York had been cancelled. I ended my work day with a drink with my former colleague, Audra, and we caught up on all that had passed since I had last seen her.
Monday night, lo and behold, my brother’s flight had been cancelled again! This time, he was hanging out at my sister’s house (my parents ran out of clean sheets!) and so I got to spend even more time with both of my siblings. His flight did not leave until the following evening.
I finished up the last bit of my work in the morning and spent the afternoon and evening with my brother and sister. As much as he was annoyed at his flight cancellations, it was such a treat to spend two extra and very unexpected days with him. Thank goodness for him, but sad for me, he finally made it home Tuesday night.
Wednesday was my first full vacation day of the trip. I spent the morning visiting IHOP with my dad (YES!) and then unloaded the last of our condo storage unit. We had finally sold our Chicago condo! I then spent some time with Dana Bana and her adorable kids.
The day started off with breakfast in Schaumburg with some of my first and most favorite co-workers from United Airlines – Lesley and Lea. The last time I had seen them was before I first left for Switzerland, so there was plenty to catch up on! From there I headed over to Marissa’s house, one of the guidettes, as I had some kinder egg treats for her adorable daughter. Thursday night was a date night with my sister, where we did dinner and a movie. I loved having an entire evening with just her – she is one of my favorite people in the whole world!
Friday I spent the day with my sister and Adrian again – this was truly the trip of family time – and Friday evening was pizza and dessert with my Aunt Gina and her family.
Saturday was the annual birthday dinner with some of my very best friends – the 17th to be exact! We ate at Homestead on the Roof which was incredibly delicious. I couldn’t believe we had been hosting this tradition for 17 years! We truly are best friends forever.
After spending most of the morning crying, I visited my sister and Adrian for one last round of tight hugs, and then spent the day with my parents in their pool. The time to leave approached way too quickly, and before I knew it I was on a plane back to Zurich.
Visits back to Chicago are always bittersweet and filled with a bit of the old and a bit of new. Since coming back, I have already been off on my next adventure in Russia, so stay tuned for another blog soon!