Moving to the other side of country from where your "home" is you learn to cherish the moments you have while you are home. You smell the smells you grew up to, have your favorite home cooked meals, spend time with family and friends, explore the things that have changed, and soak up the things that have stayed the same.
What I have learned is that as time goes on, things change, everything changes. It's bound to happen. Places change, people change, things feel different. For me, Ohio always feels a little bit smaller without my dad there. It is something I have to adjust to and find a way to embrace.
This specific trip home was liberating. I had time to process and reminisce. With Ketel One in hand and my dad somewhere watching over my shoulder, I tried to wrap my head around everything that has changed and not changed. I had my fair share of cries (everyday) but also many laughs, sarcastic remarks, hugs, and plenty of catching up.
I explored the city of Cleveland. Drank beer, wandered the West Side Market, took epic pictures, and ate delicious ice cream. Most importantly though, this day, I spent with good company, my sister and her wife.
I spent the most time I have in three years with my best friends from home. Being reminded each time why these people mean so much to me. Watching two of them on their journey into a marriage, remembering we are no longer under age and can drink at a bar together instead of being stuck in a basement all night (however, this was always one of our favorite things), planning epic wedding entrances, crying with them over life and laughing non stop about anything and everything.
I traveled to Pittsburgh to visit and meet the cutest little baby on the planet and to spend time with my grandma and little Lucy's parents (my cousins who never stop amazing me. who have a beautiful marriage, a beautiful new child, and a home with such character.)
I got to witness a Halloween wedding. One that became very special to me. My Uncle Joe and his wife Diane keeping passed loved ones legacies alive. To have my dad's glove displayed, holding their wedding rings and showing me with a Livin' the Dream sign after the ceremony. I felt blessed to have this family.
Winning halloween costume parties (with my mom and sister. we made good flying monkeys with our ring leader, the wicked witch of the west.) Running in the metroparks (enjoying fall colors and fresh air.) Freezing my butt off at high school football games. Steak and gravy dinner. Making halloween themed food. Going to breakfast at Jennifer's. And the list continues.
This trip home was my one of my most emotional but also will be one of my most memorable. I was reminded what the important things are in life. To take some things with a grain of salt. To take our feelings for what they are worth. To not be ashamed of our own personal journey and to be proud. Be proud of where we came from and where we are going.
As things change you learn to adapt. Not the easiest task. But you learn what is best for you and then you learn what is best for others. From there you keep on keeping on. Nothing else to do.
Dad, you being gone hit me like a ton of bricks this trip. The reality set in once again that I don't get to witness your bright soul anymore. That I don't get face to face time with you and that I can't build new memories with you. But what also happened this trip is that I felt closer to you than ever. I took every moment, every sign, every memory and latched onto you. You are still teaching me life lessons and for that I am thankful. Never stop watching us. Never stop helping us. Never stop guiding. You dad, are my hero.
I am still adapting. Still emotional. Still learning and still maturing. However, I am still strong as hell. Just have to remind myself it's all a part of the process.
Missing you Dad.