It’s been 12 years since my first Air and Water Show. My first encounter with it was quite a shock. We are talking 2003, when the tragic events of 9/11 were still recent and raw in everyone’s memories, and I was a young and impresionable 23 year old Spaniard who had just moved the day before to Chicago. I was a bit uneasy about moving to such a big city so full of tall buildings, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw a couple of fighters fly by my window, in my beloved Lincoln Park.
Of course, I panicked and called my then boyfriend, who was at work. He laughed out loud when I nervously told him that we probably were under attack, since fighters were flying all over the lake. It hadn’t occurred to him, who was a two year Chicago veteran transplant, to warn this scary cat about the practice for the Air and Water Show.
For a foreigner coming from peace loving Europe, it is quite amazing to watch this show. There is nothing like that in Spain, a country that has an ambivalent attitude towards its Army. I watch with envy how much Americans admire their Army, and how patriotic they are, particularly since Spain lost long ago any patriotic sense it could have had.
After that first experience, I used to joke that I could offer the pilots a drink and a snack, since they flew so close to our windows. And I went on to enjoy the show, the practice, the planes…
That was until I had kids. Still living in Lincoln Park, and still close to the lake, it can be quite bothersome to have your kids woken up from their naps by the fighters for more than a week. Any mom knows that naps are sacred, as they are the only “me” time we ever get…
But since those kids are boys, and at that the kind who like anything with wheels or wings on it, I prefer to choose the positives, pack a picnic basket, and go to the park to have lunch, lay on the grass and watch all those planes fly by, and enjoy the fruits of Chicago’s noisiest week of the year. To turn it into one more of our increasingly americanized family’s traditions. To have fun. And to admire the show myself.
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