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.


  1. BRING it ON- the repeat that is! Count me in and let the good times roll.
    I love you sis!

  2. :) i love this. there is something about childhood friends that make you feel little one young and where have the years gone ancient at the exact same time. and um.. between your hands and your voice you paint yourself quite a picture. ;) too bad you're gorgeous and none of us believe you. :)

  3. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Troy Ohio. Always fun to visit home, especially if you get to reconnect with friends.

  4. beautiful, sweet memories!
    what a fabulous gift to still have those friends and be so close-and a childhood home to visit. blessings indeed-thanks for sharing! xoxo

  5. Love 2nd St market! And garber farms has THE BEST bread. Oh and raspberry jam too. They come to the little farmers market here in miamisburg and I adore them.
    ps LOVE calvin's smile in these pics

  6. It sounds like such a fun time. I love my girl friends too. I only have a few. Sparse : ) I love the house where you grew up. SO beautiful!

    I love when our kids can be around people like them. JUST LIKE THEM : )

  7. ok funny I was going to ask Keisha today if you made it over to 2nd ST market after she said you were out... I really want to go sometime ..I still can't believe its been 7 years in this land w/o me going there.. SOON I say.. even if its a date with just me ,myself & I. (:

    Looks like you had a lovely time with old friends.. and Katie's blog..that girl has impeccable taste..Love it..

  8. Sounds like such a wonderful time. Your childhood home is gorgeous. And I love Calvin's grin in both pictures.

  9. Katie's blog is oh-so-cute! I love her vintage-ness and the pictures she takes are so pretty. Her men are pretty special too. She's my favorite blog to stalk. I've been reading it for awhile and haven't ever commented (shame on me)
    It's so very special to have friends like these. Thankfully my friends like this, the friends who make up my childhood memories and are so woven into the fabric of my life that I sometimes forget they aren't actually family, they all still live close by. In fact, we're headed away for a girls weekend this Friday at noon. Hooray!
    And Calvin's new friend is so exciting for him! What a gift!

  10. I can relate to all your childhood memories even though we grew up states apart! Your wonder years sound like buttah! You had me laughing from your pubescent male voice! I couldn't gain back control. It looks like you had a great time with these lovely sisters! (I would love to hear the dynamics of FOUR sisters.)

    Beautiful house! You totally described my grandpa....grumpy man with a cool barn, donkey and I think they had 3 dogs named Teddy. Thanks for sharing your memories! And very cool about Calvin! I'm sure J was smitten with him as we all are! I enjoyed my large cup of tea! xo

  11. Made me smile huge and return to days of ole. It warms my heart that you had the chance to go and return to years of past. I could not agree more about the fact that you all have involved into these amazing, beautiful, kind, faith filled insightful women who offer the world so much. Bravo, and again thank you....when darkness creeps there is always a ray to be found close by.

  12. Thank you again for another wonderful blog - they always warm my heart :+)

  13. Funny that you mention your voice...

    After showing your learning-to-ride-a-bike technique video to Kevin I honestly said,

    "I bet that is what I sound like to all my Southern friends!"

    I am being told frequently that I have an accent.
    Me?! I'M the one with the accent?!?!?

    After listening to you...and hearing myself (which is also painful for me...recorded voices are creepy)...yep. We have an accent.

    And I love it and all it's midwestern-ness.

  14. There is something so special about old friends. Not having to tell the backstory to all your stories...it's absolutely the best thing ever in the whole wide world. I loved this and know exactly how you feel about going home. :) I feel the same about my sleepy Illinois town! Love you, Shanny-boo.

  15. I absolutely love this post. Funny, heartwarming, moving, hilarious...thoughtful.

    I also had a strange neighbor growing up. The renamed dog story made me laugh as my neighbor continually bought new guinea pigs after one would die. They were all named Pnapy (not sure of the spelling but pronounced PA-NAY-PEE). Even as children, my sister and I found it odd.

    You're such a good mom. I love that you took Calvin to meet J. Such a smart idea and very thoughtful and loving.

    I want those rainboots and for what it's worth: I did not think your voice sounded odd at all. Not even a tiny bit. But I know that feeling. When I hear mine I cringe and ask my husband "How can you stand hearing that voice?"

    Glad your trip home was great. :-)

  16. i feel bad now that i've not kept in better contact with my hs buds...looks like you had a terrific time :) going home does have a way of lowering your blood pressure doesn't it?

  17. so - it's been since November that I was last home and to say I am missing that little spot of Ohio and all it stands for...well...seeing my 'home' and seeing my favorite coffee shop and a market I can smell when I close my eyes...it's leaving me missing it even more. But the faces of those four crazy gals you were hanging out with brought a huge smile! Who wouldn't want to have three sisters after being around them for about 10 minutes. Thanks for sharing home and for making this gal a little more and a little less homesick :)

  18. Oooh - good, good fun, Farmgirl!
    p.s. #7....check.
    More than half way done. There are only thirteen episodes again. That is just wrong.

  19. Your parent's house is idyllic. Looks like a good time was had by all!

  20. What an absolutely fun story to read here of you and your friends. You keep us all laughing.

  21. Oh my heavens...I am e-mailing you.

  22. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole entire thing...from your boy to your friends and your childhood memories.

  23. To a dear mom who grows flowers on a farm. My heart always warms when I read about your peeps. Mostly, when you are doing something extra special to make them feel 'apart of.' Your life is blessed with so many, because you are such a blessing to all you meet.

  24. Love it. So great. The old house, rusty the repeat dog, Calvin's new friend, your old ones. Its all just adorable and just right.

  25. I loved reading this! There's just something about friends with history. And Ohio? It holds a special place in my heart too. I had many college friends from the Dayton area and loved going home with them to their part of the world. And hello? Ohio has Hills, baby! Real ones. By the way, if it makes you feel any better - My recorded voice sounds like I have a constant bubble in my throat. I hate to think that that is how I really sound! It makes me shiver to hear myself on our family videos. ahhhhh!

  26. This was a joy to read. A real, real joy! So glad you had such a fun time, and it makes me think I'd *love* to have this kind of fun.... real good for the mind, I reckon!

  27. Oh, and you were saying about voices. Eek! Mine recorded sounds awful - I mean *really* awful. I have convinced myself that I sound nothing like that in real life, otherwise I'd just have to stay silent forever more. THAT would be impossible. Im-poss-ible.

  28. What a trip back home, just a grande-ol-time! So glad you had time to rejuvinate yourself with good family, friends and fun :-)
    -Heather P

  29. Oh how much fun you had!
    Thanks for sharing..I was laughing at the hard-to-do smile with your little guy! You are hilarious!
    The special memories that are a part of our past just warm us so..glad to hear about yours..it made me smile xo

    Deborah xoxo

  30. I was just getting in a panicky/stressed out state because..I don't even remember what it was now- and then I read this, and it calmed me.

    I love that Calvin is set on glasses after meeting his new friend. Adorable.

  31. I had no idea you knew the Stratton ladies! Katie is a dear friend of mine.

  32. How truly wonderful to have so many great girl friends. Really great when you can just pick up where you left off from the last time!

  33. I didn't know you knew Pencil Box! She is one of my fave reads. And I grew up in an area that is much like yours and miss it everyday as I now live in the big city. Great post!

  34. Love this post! Home is always magical.

  35. hey just saw you at Heidi's too. great interview.

    loved your home experience. what fun to meet up with your girlies. that forced smile on Calvin's face is just too funny. i can just hear him going on and on about his new cool asian friend.

  36. Sounds like a wonderful time. I'm happy you could all get together and enjoy yourselves. And, I'm happy for Calvin too, that must have been really special for him.

  37. I have a yearly girl's night at a really cool hotel with "my girls" - This year we have 12 coming! There is NOTHING quite so refreshing and energizing as letting your hair down with the girls of your childhood and youth. :) Loved reading about your night!

  38. oh good grief, did i have the time of my life! it went too fast. i demand a repeat! love you girls 4x80!
    come back to ohio soon!

  39. I took time at work to read this. I really relaxed me looking at your farm. I love white farm houses! Peaceful.Blessings to you and your loved ones, Cleta

  40. Dayton! I lived in Dayton from years 4 to 8, but I do remember it was lovely! So nice to have friends for a lifetime.

  41. I loved everything about this post! And I think I could absolutely fall IN love with that coffee shop. It looks like everything a coffee shop should be! :)

  42. A trip down memory lane - love it. And btw, your voice sounds fine. I have no idea what you are talking about.

  43. Your description of your memories of childhood is kind of like my mission for the my future little family...you're so fortunate to have those memories, and your kids are truly blessed to have a mom who's making the same kind for them, too.

  44. So, 24 hours later...

    I think Calvin may break up with you.

    Sorry, I just want you to be prepared.

  45. "Joy"(above)just cracked me up. Anyways, tonight I heard the song "Lucky One" by Allison Krauss and I thought of this post. Girl, YOU are the lucky one. Just change the lyric "happy man" to "happy Shan" and it works for you! :)

  46. oh how i love it!!
    my bff's were twins. we hook up & it's like we've never been apart. i love all the history, the shared secrets, the "known" of it all.
    beautiful post
    & i love that laugh of yours

  47. I never knew there were so many Stratton sisters! And the connection of them with kg as well! I love Angie as a blonde! I wonder how we never really knew each other. Sounds like a good time? Did you dine at Thai9? YUM! And I LOVE Calvin's new buddy. It's just too sweet!

  48. I can totally relate to that. I had two best friends growing up whose first names was my middle name, and one of them was born the day before me in the exact same hospital along with more fateful details that obviously prove we were destined to be best friends. I love old friends that you automatically fall in to place with when you see them again!

  49. Sounds like you had a great time home! Nothing is better than gettin' the girls together. ;o)

    That photo of Calvin and J...precious!

  50. What a fun post! I cracked up, loved the pictures, and enjoyed your experience with you. Keep it up!