In case you haven't noticed, my home state is shaped like a heart.
(I'll give you a moment to admire my superior MS Paint skills before moving on...) Last weekend I was back in Ohio for a childhood friend's wedding. Todd and I stayed with Lindsay and her boyfriend Brent, and I was so happy to see her face again. The night we arrived, she had a six-pack of glass bottle Cokes and a shrimp cocktail thawing in the refrigerator... we are so best friends. As excited as I was about those delicious treats, I was more excited that Todd finally got to meet Lindsay... I think he understands me even better now. Lindsay, Brent and her mini-poodle Pierre live in a very cute neighborhood in Cincinnati, near UofC. It's in the hills, on a tree-lined street, with a cozy main street not even a block away. It was wonderful to be in that kind of environment again. I think I breathed easier that weekend that I have in months. Not to mention the fact that we had two gorgeous Indian Summer days - sunny and warm all weekend.
The wedding was held not far away at a chapel on the Xavier University campus. Laura and I grew up together in Worthington Estates - a neighborhood in the Worthington suburb, just north of Columbus. There were about 10 families in Worthington Estates at that time, all with kids about the same ages, whose mothers did everything together. Our moms were part of that. (Not to say that there weren't other families with other kids and other moms; this was one group of what I'm sure was many.) So when I showed up at Laura's wedding, I was not just there as Laura's friend, I was representing my mom and our family. That fact was evident to me instantly upon our arrival. There were few other "kids" from my generation that attended the wedding, but the parents were there. And it was the joy with which they greeted me, the looks of surprise, the extra squeeze they gave when we hugged, that told me they knew why I was there and that they miss her too. At the reception, Todd and I were seated at a table with the Lori and Bill Whitley, and I felt a quiet satisfaction. Other than my own home, I surely spent the majority of my childhood at their house. It was important to me that Todd meet these women, these parents, and they freely shared stories about Mom all night... and made me dance with them to "Old Time Rock and Roll". I can't even recall how many times my mom dragged me onto a dance floor. The entire evening was uplifting. (Not to mention the fact that I looked amazing and successful in the ensemble put together by my stylish sister Stefanie - but that's beside the point.)
Next weekend is Thanksgiving and I will head back to Ohio again - this time back to my hometown. I think this will be the first time in years that I will be in Ohio twice in the same month. Stefanie and I are driving home with our cousin Josh on Thanksgiving day and heading directly for Aunt Sandy's... and by "directly" I mean "drive six hours". It's the first time we will arrive the day of, and it makes me think of every holiday movie when the family shows up from out of town. Maybe we should get matching Christmas sweaters...