You absolutely can go home again keeping certain things in mind and your mind open to the fact that things do change both for the bad and for the good.
Larry and recently went to my hometown for Thanksgiving. Going home for a holiday can be a 50/50 proposition in how it will work out. You cannot go with the expectations that this dinner will be like ones from your childhood or ones you prepared and served. You are a guest so act like one and everything should be fine.
Don’t drive through your old neighborhood unless your family still lives there. Change happens and your childhood home probably doesn’t look like the one you grew up in so leave it in your memory box.
Do drive around the town – Larry and I did that and while my memories of downtown Cleveland were dinged by how bleak it looked there is change in the wind for Cleveland so we were able to picture that change which made the desolate and vacant department stores look hopeful.
Larry had never really been to Cleveland before so I took him to a museum I knew he would enjoy and we spent the morning enjoying old automobiles and airplanes at the Crawford Auto and Aviation Museum. The museum needs some updating but that is also about to happen when they introduce the reconditioned and restored Euclid Beach carousel in it’s own special building.
The drive to the museum took us past The Cleveland Clinic and both of us were amazed at how that campus has changed and grown. What a shot in the arm for the Euclid/Carnegie corridors.
Our tour took us from the museum to Little Italy and Murray Hill with lunch at a restaurant that has been an Italian landmark for years. That neighborhood has gone through many changes but is emerging as a place to shop, peruse art in the galleries, and eat.
I drove through other neighborhoods I enjoyed growing up and I am happy to report change is happening in Cleveland for the good.
Every trip home I go visit my friend Koula (Niapas) Lazar who owns a marvelous shop in Ohio City on West 25th Street aptly named “Something Different”. You always find “something different” when you come to her boutique consignment shop. In fact her goods center around Cleveland artists and Cleveland in general so I am sending her my grandmother and mother’s vintage jewelry to sell. It should stay in Cleveland and be worn by a woman who will cherish the pieces.
I came home with two beautiful champagne flutes and because it was my birthday Koula sent me home with two artisan crafted pieces of beautiful jewelry. They are definitely “something different”.
While we were sitting around watching Koula do what she does best, be a hostess, she asked me about an old friendship of mine. I said I had not talked to our mutual friend in 15 years. I picked up the phone and called. I reached my friend’s husband who talked to me for quite a while and asked me to call back after 5PM when my friend would be awake. We were nurses together and she works the 12 hour 7-7 at hospice. I set a reminder in my phone.
Our trip is always complete when we shop at the infamous West Side Market, and shop we did. We drove so we had a cooler. Smoked kielbasa, pastas, specialty olives, pierogies and more came home with us.
Pssst – I could live in Cleveland at least 2 months (in the summer) just to shop at the West Side Market and prepare wonderful meals. I have never had better cuts of meat.
A trip home is what you make it and even though I lived in the burbs there I always explored the entire town so this trip was no exception.
Even though family traditions may have changed and should change as children grow up and start their own traditions, there is nothing like family and the love you give back and forth. I realize that not everyone has a family to go home to but if you do you this makes going home again special.
Last on the list of any trip anyone makes home is to always eat dinner at one of the best restaurants in town even if it is a new place. We made plans to start my birthday dinner at Pickwick and Frolics (where I had the best Dirty Martini ever) and finish dinner with friends at Michael Symon’s restaurant Lola. If you do not cook then you don’t know Symon is an Iron Chef.
As we sat at Pickwick and Frolic, I called my friend, Loretta. Her husband, Walter, answered and had not told her I had called earlier. She said “Hello” I answered “Hello Lo”. She asked who is this, I laughed and she said “Oh my God, it’s Carole.” How nice to be remembered for my laugh. We are in the process of catching up. One more good reason to go home – find old friends.
The waiter brought me a birthday cheesecake which I gave away to a lovely group from Solon who were heading to the Cav’s game.
Dinner at Lola was divine. I can’t say enough about how fine that restaurant is and how cool it was to order our wine from an ipad wine list. Newer friends joined us and we had a wonderful birthday dinner.
There are other things I would recommend – stay in a hotel. As much as you love your family or your friends it is a disruption of everyone’s schedule to stay in a house unless said house has enough bedrooms and bathrooms of course. I love my family and I know that in suggesting a hotel my feelings could be misunderstood – it is nothing personal and I have no complaints – I suggest that with their comfort in mind.
In closing if you leave your expectations at home and act like a guest you should have a marvelous trip and find you can go home again.