After leaving Dayton we traveled to the very heart of Ohio, geographically and politically, the capital city of Columbus.
This city was once our beloved hometown.
Back in the 1980's, when Lorraine was in graduate school, we lived in Columbus for almost five years. Our first residence was a one-bedroom apartment in a complex named University Arms (we tenants fondly referred to it as University Arm Pits) . We couldn't resist doing a drive by while we were here. It has obviously undergone renovations because it never looked that nice when we lived there!
The complex was conveniently located about three miles from OSU campus, an easy bike or drive away. Our one-bedroom apartment had nasty brown tiled floors, drafty and leaky windows, and cockroaches so large that we would occasionally come home and find our furniture rearranged.
After about two years, we "moved on up" to Riverside Drive and to a townhouse.
It was a great place to live. Only a few blocks from our old location and 3x the room. And NO cockroaches.
A short time after arriving in Columbus, we were very fortunate to become involved with a small church that was filled with great people. Here we are "back in the day".
These were the type of people that would leave groceries at your door when you were sick; or would stick their heads out their front door and ask you come over for dinner as you were getting home from a long day at work. People that made life easier. We were eager to visit with some of these old friends while we were in town.
Being in Columbus brings back a flood of memories. Lorraine was getting a small stipend as a graduate student and I was employed as a waiter so money was very tight (practically non-existent). I remember making our own sugar & cinnamon donuts using Pillsbury Biscuits, making our own potato skins using a deep fryer [oh, I miss deep frying!] and on special occasions when we could spare the money going to the local Ground Round for burgers. Formative memories etched deeply in the riverbed of our mind.
We haven't been back in almost 20 years. Could we go home again? Would Columbus be as we remembered?
We stayed at the Cross Creek Camping Resort north of the city. If you're looking for a campground in this region, look no further. We both gave it two hardy thumbs up (5 stars!).
After settling in, we arranged to meet up with a few of our old friends.
Tom and Sandy:
We were first introduced to Tom and Sandy at our church but we didn't get to know them until we moved into our townhouse where they lived two doors down from us. They were (are) two of the most generous people we know --generous with their hearts, as well as their possessions. Tom and Sandy were the neighbors I mentioned earlier that probably cooked for us more times than we cooked for ourselves. They truly had an open door policy (because they never locked their car or house doors). If you needed something, just walk in and borrow it. True mid-westerners and "Good folk".
Being a paranoid Northeasterner, I warned Tom of the dangers of leaving his car doors unlocked at night. Sadly, he took my advice. A few weeks later after his car was broken into and his radio stolen, he now also had to replace the window that the thieves smashed to gain entry into his car (Sorry, Tom!).
They had two cute children at the time we moved in. I have many fond memories of having squirt-gun wars with their six year old son. Me with my Super-Soaker and he with his dollar store 6" squirt gun (--Hey! He started it!--). With us being childless, the education these parents provided was invaluable and profoundly shaped our philosophy on child rearing. When Sandy was pregnant with her third child, she let Lorraine care for her children in the delivery room so that all could be a part of the delivery process (no thanks) and they even let us watch their parent-child interactions when it became necessary to apply discipline (NEVER out of anger, was rule #1; Rule #2: Never in public; Rule #3: Open with a gentle prayer and close with gentle prayer).
It was so nice catching up and seeing them again. They have since moved to a much nicer house in Westerville, and Tom has gone on to become a very successful CPA.
Mike and Kelly:
This is Mike and Kelly. They were our neighbors for a short period of time. And also became very close friends. I would describe these two as very "gentle souls". Very soft spoken, well thought out in their beliefs, and two very caring people. They were instrumental in helping us lay out the roadmap of our faith.
Mike, a former OSU football player (he made the team as a walk-on under famed coach Woody Hayes), enjoyed working out, a passion we both shared. And Kelly, had a real servant's heart. She is the one I mentioned earlier who would leave bags of groceries or other gifts for Lorraine whenever she was sick. Good people. Good friends.
In retrospect, I find that my brain has a way of rearranging my memory closet. The bad times, like an old shirt that my wife refuses to let me wear outside, get pushed to the back corner while the "skinny jeans" memories are kept right up front. I would describe these times as the "good old days". My brain has pushed the difficult memories (the "all-nighters", difficult bosses, stressing about finances, mid-terms, dissertation, poor health etc..) way to the back. It could also be because with friends like these and many others, the truly difficult times were few and the laughs were many.
It was great spending face-to-face time with these people; to learn of the life events that have transpired since we moved. Their children, infants when we left, are now parents. Talk of career paths are now replaced with talk of retirement. The years have truly flown by. Sadly old age, and the ailments that it brings, have crept up on all of us. We may not be as spry as we used to be but fortunately the bond of friendship was unaffected by time.
Can you go home again? As I contemplated this question, I was reminded of a quote I once read: "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for its not the same river, and he's not the same man." We have changed. They have changed. Life has changed us all. No, you can't go home again; but it can be fun to visit!
To all our Columbus friends (many of whom are not named in this post), your actions left fingerprints on our hearts; and for that, we thank you.