Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why I Love Going Home

Consider yourself warned: This may be a doozey.

Seriously - go brew a cup of tea.

Maybe pop a No Doze or two.

I can't help myself. There's something about a certain plot of Ohio land that lowers my blood pressure. I love going back. We had so much fun last week.

Maybe I've shown you before, but this is the house I grew up in. My room (now the craft room - ahem) is the upstairs window on the right.

I used to sit up on that little front porch ledge and read books in the summer.

And see that telephone pole up in the foreground? My brother and the mean neighbor boy once convinced me to "hug it". It was covered with some type of thorny vine. I was only wearing a bathing suit.

This barn belongs to the cranky neighbor guy from across the road. He's older than Methuselah and he cusses profusely in regular conversation. When his old dog died, he got a new one and gave it the same name as the old one - Rusty.

I do love his barn.

He used to have a donkey that honked and hee-hawed all summer long. The soundtrack of my youth...

But enough of memory lane.

I need to tell you about last Saturday.

In the grand scheme of our trip, Saturday was the busiest day, which isn't always a good thing, especially when you're me.

But this was a really fantastic kind of busy.

I payed my first visit to the 2nd St. farmers' market in Dayton.

We got rained on, on the way in, and all of the good flowers had been snatched up, but they did save me a Hungarian cabbage roll and it must have hypnotized me or something, because I'm all kinds of back to my pungent food cravings.

(Garber is my maiden name.)

We browsed around. I bought a $13 moss wreath, on a lark. I ran into my old Home Economics teacher and bragged to her about how I recently got back together with my sewing machine.

But all of this paled in comparison to the very reason we were there in the first place.

This guy here is the reason. Well, both guys, really.

My sister Keisha introduced us to a friend of hers. She met him at church and doesn't know him super well, but she knew that Calvin Lee would fall instantly in love. She was right.

Over our cabbage rolls/pad thai/bruschetta/crepes, we talked Korean culture and what it's like to feel "different". He handled our incessant questions with pure kindness and good humor.

It took Calvin a bit to warm up, but once he was warm, it only took about five seconds to go straight to burnin'-down-the-house-hot.

I loved - loved - watching him settle into the feeling that this really smart, really cool, really genuine man looked an awful lot like him.

Later that day, he would randomly mention that J had the same hair as him and that he thought he would probably get glasses some day. It melted me.

J is only in the states through July, but we have big plans to meet again before then and stay in touch via skype after that.

Now here's something strange.

I mean, this? Not strange at all.



I'm thinking Mr. C had to force his "smile" with regular, old Mom.

What can you do.

After our exciting morning, we headed back to Papaw and Grandma's house to practice riding the Big Kid bikes, but you already know about that.

You are now also privy to this tidbit: I have a totally weirdo voice.

I can only imagine that it sounds as awful to you as it does to me.

I'm still not convinced that the world hasn't actively conspired against me my entire life by altering the sound of every recording I've ever made. I think in reality, I do sound like Kate Winslet, minus the British accent! Or something like that...

So, I'm sorry if you're feeling bereft or disappointed.

It turns out I sound like a pubescent male wearing nose plugs.

After bike riding?

I went out on the town with Keisha.

And four of the loveliest gals I know.

These four sisters make up part of the fabric of my early years.

We started our evening at Tim Horton's, for reasons I can't explain.

I also can't explain what's happening in this photo.

I mean, I could explain it, but I'd rather not.

I'd really rather not.

We quickly moved the party to a nearby coffee shop and, sensing a rare evening in the making, the lady gave us number 18, in honor of "Feeling 18 Again". A good sign, no?

You might know this girl. If you don't, please fix that as soon as possible.

Her name is Katie and she is the youngest sister. My memories of her involve very long pigtail braids in a fetching gingery/chestnut shade and the cutest little-girl voice. She was so much younger that I really don't remember much at all, which is why it's an extra-special treat to get to know her now, as a lady. (We're real ladies now! How the heck did that happen??)

That's Amy, on the left.

She was Keisha's best friend, and I remember them as two peas in a pod. Amy went along with Keisha's frequent antics and spent many a night under our roof. Oh, and she had the same cute braids, only in a slightly lighter shade.

Now these girls.

I feel a bit verklempt at the moment.

Talk amongst yourselves...

OK. Robyn is on the left. She's the oldest and I can truly say that I looked up to her like the older sister I didn't have. She was always, always nice to me. She encouraged me and made me laugh. I remember admiring her gutsiness for going wide-legged during a long, bleak stretch of peg-legs.

And the details are a bit blurry, but I think I remember her getting into some degree of trouble for scrawling "I (heart) Madonna" on her notebook, once. She was a bit of a wild-card and a rebel, and I loved it. (And yes, our parents were the type that got concerned over random declarations of love for questionable characters such as Madonna. 'Twas just the world we lived in.)

And her? On the left?

That's Angie.


She was the bestest friend of my childhood.

We had the necklaces to prove it.

She moved to my town in 4th grade and we became attached at the hip.

Our birthdays are just 3 days apart.

We have the same middle name.

90% of my fun childhood memories involve Dangie.

I spent so many nights at her house. We would tape record ourselves for hours on end, singing songs or reenacting Wheel of Fortune. We would play with our dolls, hers was Michael and mine was Jonathan. (In a fateful twist, she married a Michael.) I would always sleep in late without realizing it (runs in my family) and when I'd traipse down two hours later, her mom would have a stack of pancakes set aside for me.

And while we're on the topic of her mom, she once rescued me when my Jr. High cheer-leading skirt was ravaged by cat pee while mom was at work.

I also once became violently ill right before departure for an away game and she whisked me back to her house and tucked me in on the couch. It was the very next best thing to be home.

Verklempt, I tell you.

Even though Angie and I only see each other a few times a year these days, I am proud of the fact that we remain close. She is a part of my heart and soul. It's hard to explain.

I think you see what I'm saying about Angie and her family. And I know Keisha's experience was very similar. We grew up together.

Now, we've all got our own lives and our own families. It's been years since I've seen some of them. But we came together for a few hours and it fell right into place. These ladies are generous and encouraging. And funny. Have mercy.

Ladies? I loved our time together.

Let's schedule a repeat.