15th Summer

Nick on Green-Line
Platform in the Loop
Chicago, USA
September 1, 2011

The summer I turned 15 Aunt Kathy invited me to come visit the Midwest. Though I was here for only a little over a week the trip made a huge impression on me.

It was the first time I can recall being on an airplane. Despite that this was several decades ago, I still recall many details of catching a red-eye Eastern Airlines flight. The passenger seated next to me wanted to start a conversation, so asked me if the cassette deck I was listening to "could play metal or chrome tapes." I wasn't interested in talking with him so was glad that he got himself bumped when they asked for volunteers on account of over-booking. If I had realized what bumping meant, I would have volunteered, myself.

David, Aunt Kathy, and Nick
I had to change to another flight in Kansas City. The whole affair seemed so adventurous. It was the first time I was doing anything without adult supervision.

I've now taken more flights than I can remember. Eastern Airlines has been defunct for 20 years. A change of planes is now something I avoid, rather than find excitement in.

It wasn't just me, but also all of my siblings that Aunt Kathy invited to visit Chicago and Indiana. We each got our own trip out from Seattle to the Midwest the summer each of us turned 15. I don't know how she came up with the idea, but am so glad that she started the tradition. It was extremely formative. I haven't stopped traveling, since.

Nick Chases Frisbee
Outside Field Museum
I was reflecting back on the experience earlier this year. I realized that Nephew Nicholas turned 15 this year. I decided to perpetuate the tradition. After consulting with Sister Jen and Aunt Kathy, I booked a ticket for him to come out to Chicago. It seems right to bring the nephews and nieces on a similar trip at that same age.

So, Nick and I have been running around town over the last several days. It's been fun and educational for both of us. A class Nick took on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright meant that he has been the one teaching me about the composition of certain structures throughout Oak Park, many of which I've walked past dozens of times--yet never noticed the detail of. Today was a long day starting with a visit to the Field Museum. When closing time drew near we stepped out to the freshly-mown lawn on the north side and tossed around a Frisbee that I requested Nick bring out from Seattle.

Browns vs. Bears
Our evening concluded with nosebleed-level seats to a Bears vs. Browns game. Nick is still obsessed with all things to-do with sport, and with all things to-do with Chicago. The Bears form the perfect nexus of his interests--I was happy to perform my uncley duties and take him to his first game at Soldier Field.

More fun around Chicagoland with Nick will take place over the next days. And then, I suppose with his sister and his cousins over the next years. I guess inviting him out means that I've bought into the tradtion of the summer trip at 15 for all my remaining nieces and nephews, as well.

Many more experiences yet to come...