I had a hard time migrating back to the US. When I was a kid, there was a mad cow scare in the UK, and I got extra questions and searches. Before departing Belize, I was selected for special screening. I was annoyed because I'm supposed to be on the TSA Pre-check list. I thought it was just the airline staff messing with me, but the gate agent told me they got the names from TSA automatically so I should take it up with them upon my return home. They went through my things, testing everything for explosives, and did two pat downs. Then I boarded the plane.
The flight was safe and timely.
On the flight I wept while watching the Gilmore Girls. When the pilot announced that we were descending into Chicago, I began to ball uncontrollably. Immigration and customs selected me for a long search and questioning. As soon as the agent asked me about the art, and I described the little wooden girl with the 'C' that I purchased in Belize in Constance’s memory, I burst into tears. I wept unfortunately through the search and interview. The agent went through everything including my mail.
I left the airport with the realization that more federal employees had seen my 'personal entertainment device' than men had seen my privates. When I made this observation to my mom, she suggested that I might consider traveling without it. I am not prepared to make that kind of sacrifice.
While waiting outside for the car I met this happy young couple who had a 12-hour layover and couldn’t wait to see my beautiful city. After putting the bags in the car, I ran back to them and slid a handful of cash to the woman saying, “Have a wonderful time in Chicago.” They yelled their thanks as I ran back to the car. Oh to be young and filled with that kind of joy and optimism!
On the car ride back to the city I cried my way through a box of tissues. When I thanked the driver, he said, “Feel better soon.” What a lovely thought.