Monday, August 24, 2009

on ohio

Almost two months have passed since taking stock. Another cold trip in the big steel belly of KLM, a few weeks in Ohio with my family, a week in DC with friends, and back to Uganda again.

If I was writing while I was home, I would have told you all about Strongsville, the suburb where I grew up. I would have told you that I started each morning with a short drive to Starbucks, and how from there I proceeded to go to the mall. There wasn't much else to do. I would have shared my frustration at the bland emptiness of strip malls. The vaguely depressing feeling that sets in during the too-bright summer afternoon hours when there's nothing to do.

But then I would have told you about the evening spent with markers at a Little League game, dodging rain drops and drawing tattoos on Ella, my three-year-old god daughter (rainbows, ladybugs, a family of crabs, I LOVE USA, an American flag). Her first attempts at AcroYoga, and the warmth you feel when a little kid you love but rarely see starts to feel comfortable around you again. Voluntary hugs and kisses when you go home.

I would have told you about IngenuityFest, where my heart pounded viciously as I strutted down the runway in a super short yellow dress and a wide straw hat for the Revive Fair Trade Fashion Show. I would have told you my parents were near tears at the event and talked about it for weeks afterward.

I did get to see a different sort of Cleveland - the east side is still pretty vibrant, and with a wrong turn on the GPS, one day I ended up in a neighborhood that used to be home to the industrialists that once made Cleveland a beautiful city. I would have described the leafy and winding, yet broad streets; the houses reminiscent of English tudors.

I certainly would have told you about the day I took my dad to songwriter night at The Winchester in Lakewood. The small front room with little candles on the tables. The musicians pouring in to listen and cheer each other on. I couldn't possibly have described the look on my dad's face as his mind raced imagining himself up on the stage.

I took a trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Armed with my iPod and a playlist mostly in sanskrit, I walked around a new exhibit - Streams and Mountains Without End: Asian Art and the Legacy of Sherman Lee at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Outside the museum, I felt a world away from Strongsville. I would have described how taken aback I was at the shimmering silver surfaces of what had to be a Frank Gehry building.

On the weekends we took the drive out to the cottage, where I lazed away the afternoons with Life of Pi (I certainly would have posted on the weirdness of that book!) and annoyed my brother with my cooking and excitement over peaches and berries at the farmers market. I would have written about the cocky joy in Henry's gait when he ran on the beach, ears cocked and paws prancing, stopping to pee on every sand castle. How good it felt to snuggle up with his salty paws. I would have written about the ice cream at Dairy Dock, the sunsets that turned the bay into a pool of liquid gold, and the joy of riding my Surly through the quarry to have coffee in Marblehead.

All this I would have written, but instead chose not to write at all, until this rainy Monday in Kampala, a month after my return; the intermittent weeks shedding a golden light of nostalgia on the memory, like photographs with the edges worn - a bit more loved for their distance from the present moment.

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