Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Illinois Visit


I’ve been thinking about how writers portray emotions in a way to draw the reader into a story. The usual advice is to “Show, don’t tell,” which works well when we’re talking about things that can be described, like rain or horse races or restaurants. But an emotion doesn’t lend itself to easy description. Actually some of them aren’t easily understood with or without words. I’m think of bitter-sweet.

This past weekend I went with my husband to visit his family in Illinois. It’s been perhaps a year or more since I’ve seen some of them. While the visits were reassuring (they’re in good health, well situated with family, etc.) it’s obvious they’re older and so am I. Time has passed while we have gone our separate ways. We’ve missed the everyday communication that comes with living near one another. I've come away from the visits with mixed feelings of joy and sadness.

On Thursday we arrived at O’Hare Airport, which has just surpassed Atlanta in number of flights. It also holds the record for the most delays. If my experience is typical, you should add two hours to your posted arrival time. Our plane was parked on a U-turn runway for twenty minutes to wait for a gate. I suppose people in the area get used to delays. Just like the bumper to bumper traffic that moves haltingly along expressways.

This is the kind of road I like. It’s near Beaufort, SC. 

I lived in the Chicago area for eleven years and loved it. That was at a time when Mayor Daley ran the city like a machine. Things aren’t so simple now. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has to make difficult decisions to cope with budget short-falls.

Out of the city, Illinois is a lush, green state. Fields of corn have pond-like puddles where the ground is water-logged. From its appearance, I thought the corn crop was in for a banner year. However, I was told that despite the hearty growth of the stalks, too much rain usually produces a below average yield. It rained while we were there.

We traveled interstate highways west of Chicago where tolls are a way of life. We expected them. However, to our surprise, there are exit tolls that can be paid only with an I-pass. No cash accepted, no booth. We had to wonder how many travelers have been trapped with this maneuver. It’s obviously a no-win situation for a tourist. Unless you plunk down over $7.00 a day at the rental car agency for an I-pass, you have to figure out how to pay these tolls online, along with the handling fees.

Leaving our Illinois family was bitter-sweet. I probably won’t see them for months. They'll change and so will I. However, I’m home now, happy to be with my books. 

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