This year, I spent New Year’s Eve 2013 on a plane to Chicago. It was one of those crazy early flights. I had to be at the airport at two in the morning. But that was what I bargained for.

I glanced on my window and out at the clouds above and below me. Truly, I couldn’t see a thing. We were flying straight through a cloud.

The red-headed middle aged woman next to me woke up with a start.

“We there yet?” She mumbled.

I shook my head and peered out the window as far as I could, but still saw nothing. “Must be getting close. Is Chicago home for you, or are you passing through?” I asked.

“It’s home,” she grinned. “My husband and I were visiting his family in the south. He’s sitting further back. Couldn’t get seats together.”

“Are you ready to come home?”

She nodded vigorously. “Oh yes. After spending two whole weeks with my in-laws, I am so excited for a bit of privacy, a bit of rest, and peace and quiet.” She sighed and turned to me. “Is Chicago home for you?”

I struggled to answer accurately. “It used to be. It will be home again, I hope. All my family still lives there.”

“Oh. How long has it been since you were back?”

“Twenty years.”

Her eyes shot up. “Long time.”

I nodded. I was lost in my thoughts, and the stranger became involved in her book, so we sat in silence.

I gripped my arm rest. “I think I see it.”

“See what?” The red-head asked.

“The Willis Tower.” I chuckled. “I’m home.”

“Good morning flight 276. Please take your seats for the descent.”

Home. I checked my phone again. No new messages. Hm. Maybe the text I’d sent my mother never went through. Better check.

Sent Messages: Hi, Mom. I booked a flight home. ETA 9 am. Meet at airport? We all need a clean slate.

Details: Message Sent.

Oh. Well. I had sent it after all, and presumably my mother had received it. She just hadn’t replied.

The flight landed, and a while later I stood waiting at baggage claim. I checked my phone every 4 seconds. I mean, I could take a taxi, that wasn’t a problem. But was she purposely ignoring my ploy to reach out to my family? Would she be the reason I would fail in my New Year’s resolution? I’d decided to start life on a clean slate. That meant righting wrongs, and that meant going home. Twenty long years ago, I was a different woman. I eloped with my fiancé, and after a cruel shift of fate, my Andrew had a freak heart attack two years after we were married. My own family had already cut me off. I eloped with the one man they didn’t want for me and how could I do that to them? To them. I was a widow and my family was only concerned with them. I had stayed bitter, but now that would all change.

At the airport, I found my suitcase and then balked. I suppose I would need a taxi now. I’d never called a taxi in my life. I turned, and at that moment, I saw a great group rushing towards. My mother headed up the parade, her curly hair flopping about her. My father trotted beside her, and my two younger-yet-still-adult sisters trailed behind them, tears in their eyes.

I chuckled despite myself. It’d been twenty years, but no matter what anyone says, no one forgets what their family looks like. So. This was it meant to keep a New Year’s resolution. This is what it looked like to start over. I liked the view.