Sunday morning I got a call from my Dad, saying he was pulling up in front of our hotel. As we took the elevator downstairs, I couldn’t believe that we were finally going to be reunited! I ran out to the car and gave him the biggest hug ever, and tried not to cry as he held me close. I’d missed him so much, and we were finally together again! Mom was there too, and it was so great to see her : ) She came to see me in Ukraine in the spring, so I didn’t have to go as long without seeing her! We all got into the car, talking at the same time, and Dad drove us to breakfast. We ate at this cute little diner he and Tori knew about, and it was a great reunion : ) Mom and Dad told us about the wedding they’d been at, while Tori and I shared our all of our best moments from Lollapalooza.
Afterwards we went to their hotel and got settled into our room, and then went shopping for the few hours we had before Lollapalooza. We made a big stop at the Apple store, where I invested in a new Macbook! Tori inherited my old one, which had survived four years and countless travels but is now entirely dependent on being plugged into a charger to work. Which is fine if you plan on keeping your computer home 24/7, but it definitely made traveling around Ukraine problematic when the battery couldn’t hold a charge.
That evening, Mom and Dad went out to dinner and Tori and I headed to our last night of Lollapalooza. The weather had been bad that day, with periodic showers, but we hoped the rain was finished for the day. We saw Flogging Molly, Lissie, Cage the Elephant, and just stopped by to watch the Arctic Monkeys when the rain came back again with a vengeance. Tori and I got drenched, but really wanted to see a few more bands before we called it a night. Fortunately the rain abated for a while, giving us enough time to watch Portugal. The Man and Explosions in the Sky. (If these band names are foreign to you, you’ll just have to take my word that they’re all great!)
The last band we wanted to see was the Foo Fighters, and 20 minutes into their show they played Tori’s favorite song and we jammed along with it. Then another huge storm blew in, drenching us yet again, and we gave up and went home. Sunday was probably my least favorite Lollapalooza day, but seeing Lissie and Explosions in the Sky was almost worth getting soaked (twice). We got back to the hotel and dried off, and a few hours later my phone rang and my friend Branda made my day with the news that she was pulling up to our hotel. As soon as she finished work in Ohio Sunday night, she got in the car and drove to Chicago to see me! We spent a few hours catching up, and I was so happy to see her again. I didn’t think I’d be in the US long enough to see any of my friends, which made her visit even better!
The next day, the surprises kept coming. My friend Raquel drove up to Chicago from Indianapolis with her friend Jake, and we all went out to lunch with my parents and spent the day hanging out in Chicago. In the afternoon, my Aunt Mari and her husband Gene came, and that evening my grandparents arrived in town too! We all went out to dinner at my favorite restaurant for a belated birthday celebration, and I can’t explain to you how wonderful that day was. The next day I was supposed to fly back to Ukraine, so I tried not to think about it as I spent the evening with all the people I love most.
After dinner Branda and I went to a famous dueling piano bar, called Howl at the Moon, where we flirted with one of the pianists and got him to play “Yellow” by Coldplay, and “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5. We got back to the hotel pretty late, and the next morning came entirely too soon.
We went out to breakfast with my grandparents before they left for Cleveland, and made a stop at Starbucks so I could take some coffee back with me to Ukraine. Then we spent the rest of the morning packing and trying decide what was essential to fit into my one suitcase. All too soon I was packed and we were checking out of the hotel, and it was impossible to put off the inevitable goodbyes. We spent our last few hours at Navy Pier, shopping for souvenirs for my friends in Ukraine and enjoying the last few minutes together. I was feeling sick inside at the thought of getting on a plane and leaving again, when it felt like we’d only had a few short days together.
Branda, Tori, and I took some touristy pictures in front of the huge bean in Grant Park, and then it was time for Branda to go too. I gave her a hug and my parents gave her directions, and she was gone. Then it was to the airport, where Mom helped me get my bags checked in and my tickets printed. Saying goodbye was less painful than anticipated, knowing that I’d only have to go 4 months until I saw them again (I already planned on coming home for Christmas—Lollapalooza was just an unexpected bonus!) I didn’t cry, but let’s just say that I had to get out the list my friends made in Chernivtsi and remind myself of all the reasons I had for going back, and read it a few times until it sunk in that going back was the right thing to be doing. It made it a little easier, and helped me put one foot in front of the other as I walked to the gate, and flew back to Ukraine.