La Grange, IL train station
I get away from the beach madness of Southern California in the summer to the quiet countryside of Western Illinois. But it takes me longer to get from Newport Beach to Macomb than it takes me to get from LA to Paris. This normally isn’t a problem. The trip happens once at the beginning of the summer. Then weeks later, at the end of the summer.
But this summer I had to leave Macomb right in the middle of my trip to go to NYC for a week-end conference. The trip took all day.
I boarded the train in Macomb at 7:00 am. Three and a half hours later I got off the train at La Grange. A cab was waiting there to drive me to O’Hare. The cab was colder than hell because my sister-in-law told him he better have the cab cold or I wouldn’t ride in it. I tipped him big time and asked if he’d be there to pick me up on Sunday to drive me back to La Grange. He took the tip and said he would. He smiled, so I believed him.
United Terminal at O'Hare
One time, having made the mistake of not giving myself enough time to make my flight, after the train ride, thereby ending up spending the night at the airport hotel, this time I had given myself plenty of time. Three and a half hours of plenty of time. I did the New York Times puzzle, ate a three course meal, and bought perfume for every single person I knew, in that three and a half hours.
Finally we boarded the plane…and then we sat. We were twenty-fifth in line. Okay, maybe fourth. We did, ultimately, take off, and suddenly I was landing at La Guardia, getting in the cab line, then getting in the cab itself, and brought to the hotel, where they put me in a room with a window that looked out onto an airshaft, so I went right back down and demanded a better room, whereupon I was put in the cutest room in the world with a fireplace, except that this window looked out onto…I don’t know what it looked out onto because I would have had to stand on the bedside table to see.
But so, by that time it was 10:30 at night.
Then I had to turn right around and do it all over again on Sunday, where I didn’t wait at the airport for three and a half hours. No. Instead, due to cautious scheduling on my part, I waited at the La Grange train station for three and a half hours, where I had a three course meal…okay, it was across the street, not at the train station where I had this meal, and it wasn’t three courses, but it was the absolute best cheeseburger I ever ate.
On the train home, I was surrounded by the shrill buzz of humanity minding its own business. This is what I kept telling myself as the woman behind me laughed and giggled and trilled for three and a half solid hours, all the way to Macomb. The fact I didn’t finally leap over my seat, screaming like a banshee, aiming for her throat, simply means I’d lost the will to live hour two and a half at the train station.
It was 10:30 at night when I finally got home–
And I’m thinking there’s something to be said for the fact that when I go back home to big, huge, sprawling, loud LA, there will be only one measly traffic congested trip down the freeway before I’ll be able to crawl back into my very own bed.