It’s 5 AM.
If I was lucky, I might have gotten an hour or two asleep but it’s unlikely.
For me to go to bed knowing I have to be up in a few hours…
Unless I drink a lot beforehand, it’s usually impossible to get any real sleep so early at like 10 PM.
Especially when I get anxious that I might not wake up in time and miss my flight.
But I get up out of bed anyway rolling around for an hour or two probably.
Grabbing a cup of tea and mixing it in with some vodka perhaps.
And have a drink as I sit on my bed with some music like this one below here playing.
Take a quick shower and get dressed.
Backpack all ready with the usual – clothes, phone charger, a few books, etc.
One last check to make sure I have everything – phone, wallet, passport, clothes, etc.
Before then I unlock the door and take the step outside as the UBER I ordered is probably about here now.
Once outside, it is still quite clearly pretty dark outside.
A few street lights assuming I live in a good neighborhood at the time.
Before then the UBER shows up and I get inside to the airport.
As we are speeding by without too much traffic at this hour…
Which is amazing in of itself to experience the roads in Mexico City with basically no traffic.
And you get a glimpse of the urban scenery as he drives on.
Some big buildings here and there.
Maybe an advertisement over there of some brand of tequila.
Outside the other window as the car is waiting for the light to go green…
Maybe you see some prostitute standing by herself late at night.
Probably not likely though at 6 AM but sometimes you see them outside on the street when a UBER is taking you somewhere.
Eventually, you arrive to the airport and begin getting through security.
Some random Mexican guys walks up to you and begins speaking in some English asking you basic security questions.
You respond in Spanish and the guy is taken aback “oh, habla español?”
And the questions go on in whichever language – “has anyone asked you to carry something in your bags?”
“Si” I respond.
“Llevo mucha cocaína conmigo! Mi amigo Raul me ofreció unos gramos…”
Once past security, you wait it out until boarding begins.
Ask the guy at the information desk “where is gate #....”
And he shrugs while on his phone “ni no se…”
Customer service in Mexico at its finest.
Well, what else can you expect from some lard ass employed by the government probably?
He’s messaging Alejandra, Karla and Maria from Tinder…
Hopefully one of them can stop by his place today!
Well, time flies by anyway…
And you eventually get onto the plane at around 7 AM more or less.
Flight into Chicago.
And over 4 hours later…
“Welcome back to America”
With long ass lines at the airport as you get through security.
Everyone else around you tired as hell.
And a line seemingly for everything.
In front of the machine where you scan your passport and get a ticket that tells you which line to go into.
A machine that takes a picture of you and you aren’t quite sure if this picture is being sent to the NSA or not since they love knowing about us so much…
And in front of some TSA agent who usually get more crap than they deserve in my opinion.
Though the ones in Chicago tend to be more blunt than elsewhere but that’s just Chicago folks being Chicago folks.
But sometimes they get curious – “you live in Mexico?”
If I was a scarier looking motherfucker, maybe they’d think I actually am taking drugs into the US.
Given it is Mexico and all.
But being a bit on the young side and more normal looking…
They usually just have a general curiosity – especially in regards to how I support myself with websites.
I find myself in front of the All American Bagel – probably my favorite thing about the Chicago Airport.
A bacon pepperoni bagel with cream cheese and a large cup of ice tea from the McDonalds close by.
If I’m lucky…
Maybe also a bag of jalapeno chips if I can find it.
Before ultimately the time comes for me to get on the next plane.
A much smaller plane where you actually can see and have physical access to the pilot.
Something you’d never see on a big plane.
A bit similar to when I took a small ass plane to Rurrenabaque in Bolivia years ago as you can read here.
Something that seems like it would only be possible before 9/11 days.
But before I board the plane…
There’s other folks lining up next to the door where we are set to walk out outside towards the small plane waiting for us.
And none of the 5 other folks waiting with me look like anyone I know from my small town.
I’m always checking anyone else out on the plane to see if I recognize anyone that I know from back home.
Hasn’t happened yet!
But once inside the plane…
It eventually takes off.
But with all the other bigger planes flying around, you surely hope none of the bigger normal-sized planes accidently hits us.
As I’m pretty sure we don’t have parachutes in this small ass thing.
But as the planes lifts up and ascends into the skies…
And above the view from below where you can see Chicago and all.
Just how much different the city looks and how much greener it looks than Mexico City from above.
Eventually the clouds cover the plane and you can’t see much of anything.
There might be some turbulence too.
Both of which isn’t concerning at all when you are in a big plane with a few hundred people and you feel the plane is big enough to handle it.
But this small ass plane you are in that is only a bit bigger than a truck or whatever…
Seems a bit more fragile.
A lot more concerning when I first started taking it but less so nowadays.
Well, the plane eventually makes its way into Iowa and starts to descend quickly enough.
And you can see again in the bright afternoon the fields below you that go on for quite some time.
Field of Dreams?
Small homes here and there seen.
Some farm land over there.
Maybe a rig truck here and there parked in a few spots that you can see.
And, depending on the time of year, probably some flooding as you get closer to home.
Some significant flooding even at times.
Maybe some old buildings completely flooded or sometimes it could be just some wet land.
But either way…
Eventually the plane descends onto the small town and seems to just fly around a bit.
Where you can see your old high school at one point.
As well as the main street in the city with all the restaurants lined up on both sides for as long as you can see.
Before the plane seems to turn around and then descend ultimately onto the small little airport that we have.
On other days, you might return by train instead.
Where you’d have to leave the Chicago airport by taxi…
And it always impresses me just how clean Chicago is of all places.
At least compared to Mexico City.
The streets are so much nicer looking and more developed.
Looks a lot cleaner too in general.
Before arriving to the Union Station to take the Amtrak back home.
Where then, while the trip is longer, you also get a much better viewing of all the small towns, countryside and occasional city you pass by.
To get a better view of America – from the ground in this case.
Or up in the air as it normally is from above and to see a different view instead.
The field of dreams from above.
But regardless of how you get home...
You get there and perhaps the plane lands this time..
Walking out, you see some family waiting for you from behind the fence.
With your backpack already in hand, you walk across the concrete and into the door of where the small airport building is.
About the size of a small home.
Definitely smaller than O’Hare…
And into the building where my parents are.
Maybe a few other folks sitting down reading the newspaper as they wait for their flight or whatever….
Before out the door on the other side of the building…
A lot colder than Mexico City maybe…
Walking outside with more caution as maybe there’s some ice here or there and snow all around late into the night.
But one picture taken too for Facebook to celebrate my arrival back to the US.
Before we head off to get some food.
Or maybe some place to sit down for some fries or whatever.
As the car gets going…
Everything looks a bit different than how my life has been for a while.
But looks strange at the same time.
There’s an odd feeling that comes with being back home after such a long time living away from it.
Especially as you have changed over the years with the time gone traveling.
But the town itself looks the same technically.
Same Ol’ town?
As I said, it’s colder than what you are used to after the years.
Before, a strong wind in December in Mexico City would be cold enough for the jacket.
Though Mexicans always have the weirder sense of what is cold when you see them in a winter coat for the same occasion.
Similar to other types of Latinos like Colombians, Bolivians, etc.
Maybe less so the Chileans.
But damn it is cold.
And you have to watch your step – ice everywhere.
And the town is small.
The infrastructure certainly is different.
No overlooking towers or anything.
No Venezuelan prostitutes standing outside in line by any part of town.
With questionably big shoulders, jaw lines and a peculiarly deep voice for a woman…
Is that a beard?
Neither do you see homeless people laying on their backs with their dicks in their hands pissing up into the air and falling back onto their face.
Nor is anyone doing crack outside.
Little children sleeping alone on the street on some cardboard?
The scenery is a little bit different.
For other reasons also….
The buildings do look a tiny bit more rundown in general.
There’s also no fresas running around in tight pants and speaking broken English in strange accents to impress strangers outside.
But there is also a lack of taco stands outside selling 25 cent tacos.
On the other hand, you have the familiar ol’ restaurants you always enjoyed and miss.
Taco Johns, Jimmy Johns, Wendys and some local restaurants as well.
The people look different also.
I’m no longer in the racial minority!
I no longer stand out as either a foreigner or possibly an upper class white Mexican.
And being perceived as possibly a fresa is the worst offensive ever.
I don’t wear tight pants and have earrings!
But the car stops anyway in front of a Wallgreens.
Once you step inside to buy some medicine, a greeting goes out…
“Matt, how are you?!”
I stop for a second and see this young guy whose probably my age looking straight at me.
White, about my height and with black hair…
No idea who it is.
But you play it along maybe – “hi, hi, how are you?”
You try to go on like you know him!
He’s not convinced.
But you carry on the conversation briefly before moving on.
Wondering “who the hell was that?”
You know, people change physically over time.
No, not him….
“I don’t think….”
But you move on.
And maybe see it again.
The change in people you used to know.
Some look the same.
Others change dramatically.
After the trip to Wallgreens, you stop by Target for some odd minutes.
Walking along, there’s a chick you used to go to high school with!
“God damn, is that Brittney? The fuck happened?”
Way back in high school, you thought she had an amazing ass.
Well, for a guy born and raised in small town Iowa….
Any ass looks good as long as you aren’t spoiled in Colombia, Brazil or the DR.
But now she weighs 500 pounds and looks like she stepped outside of the trailer park with 5 kids.
People do change…
But not always.
Keep moving along…
Then there’s that guy you went to high school with that you see at the ice cream place next…
Looks literally the same as the days in high school.
Not different in any way whatsoever.
Weird though, ain’t it?
Regardless of any changes or not…
There’s a weird feeling seeing people from high school that you rarely ever talked to or hardly knew but remember somehow.
Not so weird if it was someone you knew more personally.
Though still kinda is…
As life moves on for everyone.
We all take different paths in life.
And people drift apart.
So it is weird seeing someone you used to know but not anymore for the most part.
But that feeling of “weirdness” seeing someone like that…
Is how i feel in general about the town itself.
There’s a mixture of feelings.
Nostalgia and Memories
One of nostologia for old places that were part of your life.
When you take a walk through the park nearby.
Visit the local Mexican restaurant and go back to say hi to the cook you know personally.
Along the way you take the truck and drive by the first house your parents lived in.
Check out the tree you remember planting as a kid.
Big as fuck now!
Well, it grew a lot bigger than I grew, that’s for sure…
Standing next to the house anyway you grew up in as a kid and remember how haunted as fuck it was.
Probably has the same ghost too…
Who was likely the previous owner that died from falling off a ladder or some shit…
Still hanging out by the top of the stairs freaking people out late at night?
Still like standing in the living room just chilling as I’m sleeping on the couch?
You creepy mutherfucker…
Mixed in with the hornets that would fly into the house at summer day.
But with that nice backyard that you remember playing with your sister in during the snowy days.
Or watching the Simpsons inside.
But you drive on by because someone else lives there now…
And you can’t afford to be seen parking in front of the house staring at it with binoculars.
Might give an odd impression….
So you drive on by towards where Paul used to live.
An old friend!
The kid who used to literally cry over anything.
Maybe his dad was abusive?
I always suspected so -- especially in hindsight...
But he was a cool kid.
It’s the same house too where you have plenty of memories…
Like playing Star Fox on the N64.
Or maybe Pokemon on those Gameboy things…
If I can find it, I will take a picture of it here because I’m pretty sure I still have that damn thing…
And other good memories too…
Like that one time Paul’s younger sister pissed me off somehow…
And I took her favorite doll, stabbed it with a knife to cut its belly open and filled it with whip cream.
Ah, those were the good ol’ days.
I remember her crying even and they apparently buried the thing.
Well, bitch, next time don’t piss me off.
But those are all just memories.
You carry it on.
Drive up to where the elementary school was.
Good memories there too.
Like that time the third grade teacher gave you detention for taking too long to sharpen your pencil.
To also the time the principal got pissed at me for taking the microphone to the school and announcing how “I’m going to be president someday!” in like 2nd grade or some shit.
Good ol’ days.
But carry it on…
And drive by other areas…
The park near my dad’s place.
Or the middle school that has this cement sidewalk to the side of it that takes you down a path amongst the trees where there is this house that is abandoned and haunted as fuck.
And close to that middle school being a church where my parents caught me when I was 14 walking home late one afternoon in the snow.
Wondering “where the hell have you been?”
Assuming I was doing drugs because my sister was doing some weird shit at the time.
But was actually the time I lost my virginity to my first girlfriend at the time.
Funny to think how scared I was to admit that as they went to buy the drug tests.
And, through the memories and places you visit that bring back that nostalgia…
Some other homes you pass by where old friends used to live.
Getting a brief tour of the town alone in your truck over the course of 30 minutes or so.
And all the nostalgia it brings.
But then the other feeling kicks in while you wonder through the town.
Feeling Out of Place
Life is different now.
I’m not sure how to put it.
But it feels very different being home now.
It doesn’t feel the same anymore.
Much of the town for the most part looks the same.
The nearby river floods as it always does every so often.
The same restaurants are there.
There’s a Starbucks though – that’s different.
To be fair, the Starbucks looks out of place.
Not sure why – maybe because I didn’t grow up with it but it looks like it doesn’t belong as to how I remember the town.
But aside from very small changes like a new Starbucks..
It all looks the same.
Everything looks the same.
The old factory that I used to work at between that and the hospital is still there.
We still got our lovely Walmart.
Parks, schools and the rest look the same.
But the town feels different.
And not different in a dangerous way.
You always hear that when back.
“Oh, it’s so much more dangerous here!”
“Some dude from Chicago got shot recently!”
That’s another thing – we always have the hated “Chicago folks” that some of the locals love to bitch about.
To a degree, there’s a racial element to it as most of them tend to be black.
And regardless of how many get involved in shit or not..
Or how many of the locals do also…
Always hear it – “it’s so dangerous!”
A funny thing to hear when back.
“No prostitutes I see, no homeless people pissing on their faces I see, nobody harassing you for money, etc…”
Seems safe to me.
But I guess that’s one thing you notice.
Is how god damn safe it feels there.
Even though I still look over my shoulder and all and am more aware of my surroundings…
Never notice anything fishy.
And if you ever need the cops?
They show up in 2 minutes with the whole department if you think someone broke inside your place…
Trust me, I tested that once!
I was amazed.
But going back to what I was saying…
It feels so different being back.
It’s hard to put into words beyond “you feel out of place” or “it feels so different.”
I think the effect of living abroad in a foreign culture for so long in such a different environment and then changing that to being in such a different area that you have also a degree of nostalgia based on your childhood…
It creates that mixed emotion.
Of feeling “out of place.”
Almost like “being an outsider” again.
But not really.
Because now you fit into the racial majority of your area, speak the native language and even know a few folks.
Though most have drifted away from you as all this time has past by now.
But there is a degree perhaps of “feeling like an outsider” or “feeling out of place” when you move so quickly from one environment that is so different from the other.
But which you have been spending years in the latter before returning up north for a brief period.
All of which is compounded by the fact that you basically don’t really know anyone anymore in that community outside of family.
As most of your friends either moved out of the city or drifted away entirely.
With the few you do have living somewhere else.
And sometimes even some folks died by the time you got back for another visit.
As you walk inside the old family home and a cat is missing that you spent all your life with.
An aunt is dead perhaps.
So on and so on…
So not only do you feel weird being in this environment that you haven’t lived in for years..
But you moved from one environment that is so different from the one you are visiting.
All the while you basically don’t know anyone really outside of a very few folks.
Life is different.
Not for better or worse.
It just is.
And over the course of a few weeks to maybe a month…
You hit the road again.
Back to life abroad.
Be it Mexico City in this case…
Or in the future…
Will be Colombia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, Peru, Argentina or Chile…
Life moves on.
Carrying it on.
To other strange lands.
Meeting new people.
Saying goodbye to them in other cities.
To move onto new cities beyond that.
Different women you sleep with from Lizeth to Deborah.
Have memories with from Tami to Germania
Maybe even love at times from Nena to Rosa to Marcela to Brenda and more…
Mixed in with the occasional woman who at least seemed interesting from another Deborah to Karla and more…
All the while going to the sketchiest clubs of Cochabamba with Sergio and Fidel.
Or standing by the tienda at the corner drinking with Andres.
Dancing your way down a beach near Santa Marta to a big tittied Colombian woman with fake tits and aguardiente in hand with some weird merengue in the background.
Or in a club of Buenos Aires with Thalisson and Pedro.
Drinking a shot of brandy with Mau while listening to him talk about how the Chileans are bastards for stealing part of Bolivia…
And beyond the city…
To witnessing scenery in the countryside so different from what you remember in your hometown.
From Iguazu Falls to Salvador Dali Desert to Patagonia to the Amazon Rainforest to Central American volcanoes and more.
And while those experiences are fun…
They don’t necessarily satisfy you on a deeper level when you keep saying goodbye.
Similar to your hometown…
You keep moving on like that.
And you keep saying goodbye again and again.
You have the memories.
And the memories are great and the experiences were fun.
Absolutely worth it.
Especially when you are young.
So much so I am contemplating having a little more fun like that again for two years or so more or less.
But you do keep saying goodbye and goodbye.
As life moves on.
Similar to your hometown.
Eventually, I think for most of us, there also comes the need to establish deeper roots somewhere.
Throw in the towel.
That isn’t to say you can’t take side trips once in a while for a week or so.
But you do get tired of saying goodbye.
Maybe go back home where roots are already there.
The easiest solution to most people I think.
Even if it is weird to go back to a small town in Iowa for brief visits alone.
You would probably get used to life there again.
Sooner than you think.
Though it would always be weird – to a degree I think also this continual travel and/or living abroad in a place like Mexico changes you to a degree.
Maybe in ways I don’t entirely understand or know how to put in words yet.
Regardless, it could be Iowa again…
Though I have no itching to move back.
For a variety of reasons a bit deeper than what I will express here but have hinted at in other articles.
You want to establish roots eventually.
I’ve had some roots established in Mexico City now.
I’m comfortable here.
Do I move on again to another country in a few years?
Maybe come back later after that one more experience?
For just a tiny bit more.
Though as I get older…
There is that itch to also settle down with some pets....
Maybe a house in Puerto Williams, Chile where I fish for a living and live in anonymity.
Though maybe instead a nice apartment in Panama City with the view of the waters and a big tittied Colombian woman to keep you happy and who calls you "papi."
Or perhaps in Lomas de Sotelo of Mexico City being a family man instead.
As for now, I don’t see myself reconnecting with the roots in Iowa so to speak.
Because, as I hinted at before, there is a weird feeling of being back.
Of feeling out of place in a way that is hard to describe.
But equally so…
You get used to life down here.
After a while.
And I’m happy down here.
Well, relatively happy.
My life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
But I’m used to life down here now.
So as life moves on.
Regardless of it I travel again or not…
I will continue returning up north obviously.
As I probably will for the rest of my life if I continue my life down south.
But with roots established somewhere.
Most likely Mexico or Chile if I’m being honest.
And so like the wind that hits your face as you sit on a boat moving along the waters of Lake Titicaca.
So does life.
Life keeps moving on.