Siiigh... The end of a six-hour drive, at last. Here I am, a king-sized bed ALL to myself, at the Holiday Inn, a full belly, and pillows whose cases have their firmness stitched into them. I plan to sleep diagonally across the bed, completely spread-eagle, and thrash around all night, kicking and splaying 'til dawn.
This blog is supposed to be an account of my move to the great city of Chicago, and subsequent adventures. I've had other blogs in the past, weird ones I only showed to a few people. This one will also be weird, but this time it's different. I'm telling my facebook friends about this one, which means that bored people at work will be reading it to kill time. The pressure is on.
So let's start from somewhere near the middlebeginningish...
I spent the past year-and-three-months living back in Maryland with my parents, leaving my beloved San Francisco to get away from secretarial work, re-assess my career path, and re-launch my adult life. (The first launch, while interesting, was a bit of a misfire). It took me a full year to figure out what I was going to do... In fact, it was EXACTLY one year and one week later. I arrived "back home" on July 4, 2008, and visited my friend Sara in Chicago (with mutual friend Kasey in tow) on July 9th, 2009, and by the time the weekend was over, had decided to move there and start again.
Fast-forward to me driving away from the house today, two hours behind schedule, of course. I'm going to be staying with my friend Sara (and her husband and adorable baby boy), who I knew in elementary school, in Chicago until I figure out how I will be making money and secure an apartment. For their sakes let's hope this doesn't take long.
Farewell, dear Maryland friends and loved ones... Goodbye Annapolis, Café Olé (thank you for employing a non-morning person at your coffee shop, Claudia), Farm (and my tribe that comes with it), River (and the clothes I lost in it a few summers ago, decaying and forgotten), fields and friends, new babies (hi Maggie!), etc. I'll miss you even though we knew this day would come from the moment I stepped onto the boat on that fateful 4th of July night and said something along the lines of, "Well I'm back. But I'm not staying long-- There's crab dip?!"
Anyway, enough of that... Today I arrived in Wadsworth, Ohio. I haven't been back here in 15 years. Wait, I think we may have passed through once some time since then on a road trip and had dinner, but I lived here 15 years ago. My little sister was born here 18 years ago. We moved here when I was eight, I turned nine soon after that, started fourth grade, and we stayed until December of seventh grade, when I was twelve. This is the place where I discovered Mallo Cups, learned to play the clarinet, danced ballet in the little studio across the street from the middle school, played "Little House on the Prairie" in the field behind our home, made up an entire fairy world with Anita in the streams and woods where she lived, made a few lifelong friends and then had to leave them behind. It's also the place where I was first teased for having a "weird" name, where I stopped speaking Icelandic to my mom for a while in an effort to fit in (thereby cursing my grammar knowledge in that language for, apparently, the rest of my life), and where I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time, immediately after which I demanded that my mom allow me to change my name to Anne, which she, of course, refused to do (thank goodness).
As aforementioned, I'm staying at the Holiday Inn, and it's nice. The two girls working at the front desk seemed to be about my age, and I told them that I used to live here when I was a kid and how weird it was to be back after all this time. We talked a little bit about what's changed (they have a Super Wal-Mart now; the local pizzeria, Marie's, did so well that they got a new, larger location nearby; and the Giant Eagle grocery store moved to a different part of town). We laughed and chatted, they were both really nice (I must be officially in the Midwest) and then I gasped and lowered my voice to a reverent tone.
Me: "Oh my god, wait. Most importantly of all... Is... *gulp*... Bidinger's still here?"
Front desk girl #1: "It is still in business, but... (my breathing stops, she watches me carefully to make sure I'm not about to freak out on her) ... they're closed for the season." (I collapse all over the counter with relief.)
What is Bidinger's, you ask? Only the greatest soft ice cream stand in the entirety of the United States of America (including Hawaii and Alaska). It's only open during the summer, and my family used to go there several times a week after dinner to make the most of the season. My favorite thing to get was always a small strawberry cone. It's difficult to explain why it's so good, but if you ever get the chance to try it, you'll know. I hereby vow to return this very summer and partake in its creamy, chilly goodness.
Another culinary landmark of Wadsworth worth discussing in more detail is Marie's Pizza. This used to be a tiny little dive way on the other side of town, it was my dad's favorite while we lived here. Apparently they've done well for themselves and have a new location to accommodate their adoring public. Remaining loyal to my (admittedly tenuous) Ohioan roots (or maybe partial stem is more accurate?) I opted to go there to pick up a late dinner, having had nothing but paprika flavored curly chip things from Iceland (also known as Skrúfur) and a handful of almonds since breakfast. I ordered a small cheese pizza, bread sticks with dipping sauce (heart attacks in a box, cup, and foil, respectively) and a salad. It was excellent, I can hear my blood turning to sludge even as we speak.
So, tomorrow I'm going to drive around and take pictures of things that were important to me as a kid living here, which should be fun and strange. I may even go to my old middle school and say hi to a former teacher or two. It all depends on how early I wake up. Oh boy, free breakfast!