“Wicker Park Sushi?” I said as we walked by the empty sushi counter.
“That doesn’t exist,” she said.
“I have seriously never been here.”
“I didn’t know they had a plane here.”
We stopped and looked at the WWII era replica airplane.
We were lost. In a place we had been a thousand times.
After our flight was cancelled out of Kansas City, Missouri, (KCMO — see what I did with the story title there?), we had a three-hour delay before the next one, which itself was delayed half an hour coming in, then we spent an hour on the tarmac at O’Hare waiting for a gate to open up, then we had to stand in the cold boarding ramp to get the carry-ons they made us valet and then I made the damn fool decision to go and pee.
This last part is what took us down a tendril of O’Hare with a children’s play area, a “Wicker Park Sushi,” a giant WWII era plane and no prior knowledge of our surroundings.
Our original plan of a 4:30 flight got us off the plane at 11 p.m. It had been a long day.
Waxing poetic about O’Hare is hard, especially at night. Then, the wide-eyed newbie travelers and seasoned pros just aren’t there. There’s no hustle, no bustle, no long passionate kisses between reunited lovers. The joy and passion of travel, the excitement and anticipation of soon being rocketed through the skies doesn’t exist at night.
At night, O’Hare is just a very well-lit commercial building with closed stores and the occasional TSA worker eating a sandwich.
For those trivia buffs out in the world, O’Hare is a part of Chicago proper, annexed in the ’50s via a long thin strip miles long and 200 feet wide. Cities have to be contiguous, you see. So to get the tax revenue from the once-rural airstrip, Chicago had to reach out and grab it.
The building where we wandered, lost among closed sushi restaurants, Chicago.
The tarmac where we waited an hour, Chicago.
The boarding ramp where our breath congealed to fog as we waited for what would have been a perfectly acceptable carry-on in the original, larger plane that got canceled out of KCMO, Chicago.
We had been in Chicago going on two hours and we hadn’t been able to leave the building yet.
We kissed by the escalator. She was taking a cab. I was taking the Blue Line.
“Bye, babe,” she said, gripping my coat lapel a bit as she broke away from the kiss.
“Bye,” I said.
There’s no hustle or bustle at an airport at night. Exhaustion and empty corridors replace the romance of travel. It’s an empty time for an airport. It’s an empty time for the outstretched arm of a grasping city.
But at the very least, I got out of Missouri.