Gifts for Me
Corn is sort of a big deal where I come from. When you drive through parts of Ohio, it’s like trekking through a gigantic corn maze—with the road as your path, corn on all sides, and questions about when you’ll find your way out racing through your mind. One of the required courses at the junior high I attended (almost two whole decades ago!) was called Ohio History. In that class, I wasn’t surprised to learn that corn is one of Ohio’s biggest crops. (I also have random memories that Ohio consists of 88 counties and boasts “Hang on Sloopy” as the state’s rock song…I’m still not 100% clear on what useful knowledge I acquired from that class.) Anyway, when I was a kid coming up in this corn-field-covered state, we ate corn on the cob almost every evening and then popcorn each night before bed. So, naturally, when I return to my native soil, corn greets me. The first meal I ate at my dad’s, on Monday night when we arrived, mirrored many meals from my childhood: ham, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob. In my eyes, it doesn’t get much more Ohio than that.
I love my Ohio. Since I arrived less than 48 hours ago, I’ve gotten to catch up a lot with my dad, who, regrettably, I only get to see once or twice a year since I moved up north. He’s such a proud grandpa. Yesterday, I also got to meet up with one of my best friends since the same year I took that Ohio History class. Jacob and I met her and her little boy, who’s just a few months younger than Jacob, at the park for a lovely afternoon of running after Jacob, complaining about our husbands, and commiserating about motherhood being much harder than we expected. I guess the lovelier part was just seeing each other and each other’s boys and sharing in our frustrations and joys. After all, that’s what friends are for.
One other beauty of Ohio is that it’s daylight here almost a whole hour longer than in Connecticut. I’m not exactly sure how that happens, something to do with both states falling into the Eastern Time zone but being in different locations in relationship to the sun. Regardless of the science behind it, the bottom line is an extra hour of summer each day! It’s like a dream. However, it means Jacob has been staying up until almost 10PM each night, and is crankier than ever in the evening. (That’s not the “like a dream” part.)
Oh, and I should mention that in Ohio, it is true that the people are warmer than in the New England area. Hugs and handshakes and smiles are far more common here. Strangers are friendlier. The twenty-something on the treadmill next to me, the biker in line behind me at the gas station, the custodian who was repairing our (hotel) neighbor’s lights—they all said “hi” and “how ya doin’” or struck up a conversation on something or another when our eyes met. This would be strange in Connecticut. (If you don’t believe me, I’ve tried it. I’ve carried that part of Ohio with me in my personality. People in the Northeast end up giving me funny looks when I talk to them without a good reason.) Yesterday evening, when I was walking through Meijer (an amazing grocery store that’s sort of a cross between Stop ‘N’ Shop and Target but with many more organic food options and less expensive prices on both clothes and food), I got at least four, completely genuine, “how are you today, miss?”s from various, (seemingly) legitimately happy employees.
I look forward to Meijer trips when I visit Ohio. In general, at home or on vacation, grocery shopping rejuvenates me. I’m not sure if it’s the bright lights or my brain working so hard with all the detailed comparisons of products and ingredients or what. Either way, yesterday evening was all that…plus my husband so graciously offered to entertain Jacob at my dad’s house while I went to the store all by myself. Freedom! My plan was to get groceries for our hotel room with a kitchen (so we don’t have to spend a bunch of money on eating out). Two hundred dollars (not much of a savings) and two hours later, I had a cart full of groceries, and I felt renewed!
On my way out of the store, my eyes landed on an Ohio Lotto machine with a ticket inside that read “Gift for You.” Although I’m pretty sure the message’s intention is for people to buy the ticket for someone else as a present, I thought that I deserved a present. After all, I am on vacation, and I was enjoying some time to myself. Unfortunately, the gods, or fairies, or whatever power from above who doles out the lottery wins thought it gift enough that I was in one of my favorite places with my loved ones, and even getting a little break from my wonderful but exhausting Jacob. I can’t argue with that.
The heavens bestowed upon me four other things over the last day. This time the angel running the control panel wasn’t so kind. First, yesterday morning, my precious Jacob woke up with a terrible cold—a cough and a stuffy nose. By late evening, his darling eyes started to produce gobs of green goo, which I now attribute to some allergy at my dad’s house because today he is fine. Second, Mother Nature paid me a visit to remind me that my son scaling back to nursing just once a day means the return of her monthly crimson routines. (The almost two-year hiatus of such visits from Aunt Flow while I was pregnant and nursing sometimes seems like reason enough to have another child. Why does she always come when I’m on vacation??)
In the spirit of discussing the important women in my life (as I’ve paid homage to the lottery fairies, my angels, Mrs. Nature, and my annoying red relative all in a single post), my third “gift” came from one female who I’ve failed to include in my blog thus far: Constance, my trusty computer. In spite of staying up hours past my bedtime last night with my husband (something I hardly do these days), I awoke at 5:30 sharp this morning. No, my alarm was not my crying son or even the sun (which also rises almost an hour later here than in Connecticut.) It was the moans and wails of my computer whining that it had been too long since I had played with her and commanding me to blog. And, when I finally did, my fourth “gift” arrived—the internet was down at our hotel…all day. Although I’m hoping to keep Constance at bay for a couple of days with this long post, I’m not sure when it will actually be published. (By the time you read this, the answer has come and gone.) Until next time…