"Can you confirm our seats on that?"
"Yes," said the tinny voice in my ear, difficult to hear through the undulating background noise of a bustling terminal.
"I guess that will have to work, then," I said. We were advised to let our luggage continue on ahead of us.
"Didn't I just tell you the other day that I always wanted to see Chicago?" I asked David. He nodded with a smile.
We walked to the Hilton at the O'Hare International Airport and checked in. Someone suggested that we take a train downtown to Taste of Chicago, the annual street fair. We freshened up as much as we could with the emergency-amenities bag provided by United and headed to the subway station, where we caught a ride into town.
"What were the chances yesterday morning that we'd be eating ribs and listening to a live blues band in Chicago tonight?" David asked. We sat on benches shaded by trees in Grant Park and commented on the fashion tastes (or lack thereof) of the passersby.
"This is great!" I said. We took a stroll by the water's edge (Lake Michigan is so massive, it looked like an ocean), traded three of our food and drink tickets for a bottle of water, gave our last ticket to a woman who we overheard was one ticket short for something she wanted, and headed back to the subway.
Friday afternoon, David was wearing the same pants he'd put on at his parents' house Wednesday morning. When we arrived at the airport, we were informed that our seats were not actually "confirmed," but that we were on a "kind of waiting list for them." David made a show of eating crackers with ketchup and mustard in front of the gate attendants and saying, "I am delayed... uhhh, long time," in a Russian accent to anyone who happened by.
After the Brit who missed his flight had walked away with a pout on his face, we stepped up to the counter. Despite the fun we'd had, I knew I couldn't take another day of waiting and rescheduling. Tickets were printed for us. I held the golden envelope as if it were my ticket to Wonka's chocolate paradise. When we had to wait on the tarmac for over an hour before clearance was given for takeoff, we weren't fazed. Marielle, our smiling flight attendant, kept the wine coming.
"I wouldn't mind being rerouted to Paris," I said, surprised to find myself disappointed when the plane finally lifted to take us home.
"Maybe next time," said David. "Remember, we're coming back for Thanksgiving. Who knows what other adventures await us?"