This was the universal response last week when I showed up unexpectedly in my hometown.
You see, it was my mom’s birthday. And this woman is difficult to shop for. She doesn’t want much, and rarely splurges on herself. And so I decided she needed flowers, and that I should personally deliver them.
So while she was working away, I walked in holding an orchid (it will last longer than a bouquet). It took her a moment to realize it was me! And then she giggled all afternoon thinking about it. I proceeded to also surprise my sister-in-law at her office, then both nieces, then my brother.
Each time, the look I received was akin to that of someone seeing a ghost. Are my eyes playing tricks? Is my daughter – sister – aunt from Florida really standing in front of me on a random Tuesday afternoon?
My nephews read a message not intended for them, ruining their surprise, but not their excitement. And while I was there, I got to hold baby Emerson and whisper how much his Great Auntie Sherri from Florida loves him.
Yep. Sometimes I miss all these wonderful people whose blood I share. Sometimes I miss seeing red barns and silos. Old tractors and green cornfields. Sometimes I simply miss fresh, delicious sweet corn and tomatoes.
The Midwest maintains its predictable and peaceful charm. There was a quiet tempo which I can now appreciate. The famous Mark Twain Overlook, named in honor of Samuel Clemens, a one-time resident there, provided a moment of reflection along with the fabulous view.
It was good to drive around and reminisce. I spent a few minutes driving through Weed Park (yes, we sometimes took this literally). I drove by the house my grandmother lived in, and out to the original family farm.
I ate Happy Joe’s Special Pizza – Sauerkraut and Canadian Bacon, my personal food highlight. You can’t get it anywhere else, and eating there is non-negotiable. I also indulged in a grilled steak dinner with fresh eggplant, tomatoes and yes, sweet corn. I can’t tell you how many ears I ate, because I did not bother counting. I just kept eating until I was full.
It was the first time I’ve ever been really sad to leave. Also, did I mention it was 75 degrees and sunny with low humidity? My people, the food and perfect summer weather were all just amazing, and my heart is full again.
What makes your hometown visits memorable? Is it a restaurant and a park? What are the things you must do when you end up there? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading, until next time,