0635 hours I departed the UK with a stopover in Brussels and what do you know, we had a female captain piloting the plane. I don't think I've experienced that before, so right on sister! I arrived in Chicago after a 99% very smooth transatlantic flight, and approached border patrol with my passport, ESTA, and a smile. My i94 was unfortunately incomplete as I couldn't remember my hosts address, despite having stayed with her 2 years previously! This did not please The border patrol representative, so for the first time in my life I was asked to "step this way please...."
Of course I just knew that everything would turn out fine, I could prove with whom I was staying very easily, I had their details on my iPad. I could show proof of my financial outlay to participate in the various weekenders on my itinerary and most importantly, I had a flight home booked! The experience did remind me that the dancing community sits apart in a way that most walks of life mingle and accept each other within seconds.. You dance?cool, let me know if you ever need a play to stay. #MyKindOfPeople.
Still, after probably half an hour in the waiting area, various thoughts had of course begun to cross my mind. Such as, IF they refuse me entry, that's a £1436 flight down the drain... Another $1000 or so of entry fees spent. And the real killer: people are going to think I was so unprepared or stupid to risk such a trip without making a note of my first destination!
Lo and behold, I chatted with a lovely, if slightly perplexed border agent about my plans as he desperately scrolled down the drop down menu, scratching his head and exhaling, looking for an appropriate status to select and confirm my legitimacy. Soon though, he dispatched me on my way with a wave and a faint have a nice trip may have passed across the air. I wished him a "nice day" too.
And so, legally allowed to enter, I began a series of firsts that will define my United States adventure. Having come from 10 or so months living out of my boot I had finely honed my packing skills and so was prepped to endure lots of walking with my own bags should the need arise.
Central Chicago was a super as I remembered. Fabulously imposing architecture, at once somewhat familiar and yet strikingly large compared to my native Mancunia. The sheer scale of the buildings relative to the narrowness of the streets here is in stark contrast to anything we have back in my hometown!
My first day passed in somewhat of a fuzzy and happy state. My first full day entailed walks through what can only be described as, "this is where we'll film where they torch the getaway car"! Make no bones about it, I mean no insult to the city of Chicago. I had a very positive welcome everywhere & completely understand that the hustle needed to survive on the mean streets are way beyond the comprehension of most people. So I leave that subject there.
My first night of dancing followed at Untitled: a fabulous venue. If you are ever in Chicago I urge you to check it out. The fact that my dancing companion & I accidentally crashed a networking party with free booze, snacks and great banter, that was also dance floor adjacent? #coincidental.
Other firsts followed: My first all American birthday blues jam.
My first all American roadtrip: we took Highway 55 out of the city & joined the 80west.... Route info here:
My first truckstop!
The firsts continue and I will be back soon, reporting on my first ever dance weekend in the US! Dear Off Grid Blues, in the words of Jimi Hendrix: here I come baby, comin' to getcha!