by Doreen F.
Finally the day had come. My sister and I were flying to the US to meet her boyfriend who had been on an exchange at the University of Richmond. We’d meet him and some of his friends in Chicago and would go on a road trip to LA on the famous Route 66. One of his friends would join us which would make accommodation easier and the rental car much cheaper.
My sister Mia was longing to see her boyfriend Alec. They hadn’t seen each other for 5 months and despite regular contact by skype she was excited to see him in person. Once we arrived at O’Hare Airport we took the subway to reach the city center. Fortunately our luggage had made it to our destination as well since I had forgotten to put my contact lens paraphernalia in my backpack. Before we left the airport Mia went to the ladies to put on some make-up. We had arrange to meet Alec and the others at a hostel in the city center where we’d all be staying. They had had an early morning flight and thus had already arrived in Chicago a long time before us.
I was really glad it was already May, therefore it was not that cold. I had been to Chicago once before in March and it had been freezing back then. Mia had texted Alec to tell him at what time to expect us at the hostel. As we approached the building I could see that Mia was really excited.
“Do I look ok?”
“You look great!”
“Let’s go in, then.” Mia took a deep breath and opened the door to the hostel. Alec was standing there holding a beautiful red rose. A big smile spread across his face and Mia ran towards him and they hugged and kissed for a long, long time. It was very moving. I wished I had someone like Alec, but I had not been that lucky with men. So after my last disastrous relationship I had decided to take some time off and enjoy the advantages of being single. I didn’t know it yet, but my unlucky streak with men was about to change.
Finally Mia and Alec decided to part and I said hi to Alec and we checked in at the reception. However, the hostel didn’t have shared rooms which meant the Alec was staying in a men’s dorm and Mia and I in the women’s. They weren’t pleased, but there nothing we could do. Since we were only staying there for 2 nights we didn’t argue and just put our luggage into the room. Alec told us that his friends had already left the hostel to do some sightseeing, but he would call them to see where they were so we could join them. After a short phone call we left the hostel and headed for the Apple Store which was where we had agreed to meet. Through Mia I had already heard a lot about Alec’s experiences in the US and his friends and whatnot. Also, I had seen tons of pictures of him and his friends on facebook. Still, meeting them in person would be something entirely different. There were 5 of them, 3 boys, 2 girls. I was so glad to see that Mia and Alec were so happy. Eventually, we reached the Apple Store and the others were already there. Introductions were made and they all seemed very nice and immediately we were laughing and joking as if I had known them for much longer.
We went out of the store to do some sightseeing. The others had already come up with a plan what they wanted to do. I joined Alec’s friends to give Mia and Alec some time together. We had a great time and saw the most important things before we had dinner at the Hardrock Cafe. Mia and I were a bit jet lagged and the others were tired because of the early morning flight they had had and the lack of sleep they had incurred during the farewell parties. So we got back to the hostel and, since the boys had a 4-bed-dorm on their own, we stayed there for a while until we got too tired and headed for our own beds. We had arranged to meet in the morning at 9 to have breakfast.
Jet lagged as we were Mia and I were awake at 7.30. So we had a shower, got dressed and headed down to the lobby where they had a computer to check our emails and pass the time. By 9.15 all of us were ready to go. We had a delicious breakfast at one of the many cafes. I was starting to feel as if I belonged to the crowd of exchangies, even though I didn’t get some of their jokes. One of the guys was supposed to come to the road trip with us and he seemed really nice and yes, he was cute. His name was Colin and I liked his sense of humor. The others were very likable too. They were planning to go to Canada to meet some of their friends from their home university.
After breakfast we did some more sightseeing and shopping taking advantage of the for Europeans very favorable euro-dollar exchange rate. In between we did some stupid stuff and had fortune cookies in Chinatown. At sunset we went up the Sears Tower and enjoyed the fantastic view taking tons of pictures of the city and us. As it was the final night of Alec and Colin with their friends we went to a fancy bar and stayed until closing time drinking vodka, which had been THE drink for the exchangies. Back at the hostel we agreed to check out at 8.00, have breakfast and pick up the car. The others had a flight to catch early in the morning so we said goodbye before we went to bed. As always, Mia and I were in the lobby at 8.00 and the boys weren’t. So we went up to their room and knocked. A very sleepy looking Colin opened the door.
“Good morning. We’re waiting in the lobby. Why aren’t you ready?”
“The alarm didn’t go off, sorry. I think I forgot to set it.” He smiled apologetically with the dreamy look in his eyes and his tousled hair; we just couldn’t be mad at him. Mia went into the room to wake up Alec. We decided that Mia and I would buy breakfast and return to the hostel while the boys would pack their things and get ready to go.
When we returned 15 minutes later the boys were just checking out. So we sat down and ate the breakfast. They then confessed that they didn’t get much sleep since the others had to leave so early that they didn’t go to sleep at all and Alec and Colin only fell asleep after they had left at 5.30 in the morning and then they had forgotten to set the alarm.
Then we went to pick up our car. The rental agency was very close to the hostel and in no time we had our car. It was an SUV with enough space for all our luggage. We decided that I should drive first, since Mia didn’t want to and the boys needed to rest. Mia set the destination for the GPS and off we went on the historic Route 66. We connected our iPod to the radio and simply enjoyed the ride until we stopped for lunch. By then Colin and Alec were fit again and Colin was driving. We had decided to spend our first night in St Louis, Missouri. We arrived there in the afternoon and found a motel fairly easily. The price was okay and we took two double rooms, since I convinced Mia that she and Alec finally deserved some privacy and I didn’t mind sharing a room with Colin and he didn’t object either.
After a short rest we went to the city center and did some sightseeing. After dinner we returned to our hotel and decided to call it a night, as we wanted to be fresh tomorrow to get to Oklahoma City by way of Memphis. So we said goodnight and arranged to check out by 9.00.
Colin and I went to our room. I decided to take a shower and wanted to know if he needed the bathroom. He didn’t. So I took a shower, took out my contacts and came back to the room dressed in my pajamas. Colin was watching some series on TV, but got up and went to the bathroom. In the meantime I put on my glasses to see what he’d been watching. It was NCIS, one of my favorite shows. I heard the shower and after a while Colin called out of the bathroom.
“Sandy, could I ask you a favor?”
“Well, I just realized that I forgot my contact lens solution in the hostel, could I borrow some of yours? I’ll buy a new tomorrow.”
“Of course, just take however much you need.”
“Thank you so much. You’ve saved my life.”
“Maybe not your life, but that of your contacts.”
A little later Colin emerged from the bathroom wearing glasses and he looked absolutely gorgeous. Well, he wasn’t wearing a shirt either which made it even better. He searched his suitcase for a shirt and once he found the one he’d been looking for he put it on and lay down next to me on the bed.
“Thanks again. I don’t know what I would have done without your help.”
“You’re very welcome. It’s a great coincidence that I wear contact lenses too. Otherwise you would have been screwed.”
“Too true and I wouldn’t have fancied going to a pharmacy now. Well, I guess they’re closed now anyway.”
“Nice glasses by the way.”
“Thank you. Yours look great too.”
“Thanks. How bad are your eyes?”
“Very bad, I really don’t see well. I’m minus 6 in both eyes.”
“I’m only minus 2, but it’s bad enough. But I guess, I can still see a lot more if I take my glasses off.”
“Yeah, I’m really blind and my glasses are not quite up to date. I can see okay, but it’s much clearer with the contacts.”
“So it’s a good thing I saved your contacts.”
“Oh yeah, ha-ha. I usually have an extra pair contacts, but they’re my last ones because I tore a lens recently.”
“So you’d better be real careful.”
“So do you still wanna watch TV or shall we go to sleep.”
“I think I’ll sleep, but if you want to stay up and watch TV, I don’t mind. I can sleep anywhere.”
“No, actually I’m tired as well. Let’s go to sleep then.”
“I have to warn you, though. I have a tendency of stealing the blanket.”
“Really? So do I. Let’s just try not to spend the whole night fighting for the blanket.”
I set the alarm and took off my glasses. Colin did the same and turned off the lights.
I fell asleep with the knowledge that this was going to be the best road trip ever which would change my life.