Wednesday, July 13, 2005

You can't got home again, but you can eat nearby.

In the amount of odd decisions and impulses I've acting on in all my 28 years I never thought I'd include agreeing to go to a 10 year high school reunion would be one of them. Like so many angst-ridden souls before me I was certian I held the market on being the most outcast girl in Doc Martens EVER and that I wrote the best morbid poetry of all time.
The couple of times I've driven back to and one time through Grand Rapids, MN I've had physical symptoms that have included hives, twitching, Toret's like outbursts, bladder spasms, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, ichty eyes, sleeplessness and dry mouth.
Then, like a cloud that was lifted, I realized I really didn't ever have to go back there. See, what happened is after I left (cue violins) the small business my family had put everything in to went under. And then the house burned down, which totally sucks in a way you will never know unless it happens to you. The fam picked up what they could, what had been donated to them and moved, evenutally to Duluth. Then dad started getting sick and subsequently died. So, whenever I run in to anyone who might want to know why I don't visit I've really got a good amount of answers. Answers that always make my questioner more than a little uncomfortable. So, I don't go and most everyone who knows me knows why.
But then a really odd thing happened a couple of weeks ago. My sweetie & I decided to have a spontaneous road trip to... somewhere. Three and a half hours later the familiar sites began a series of surprisingly warm memories. Pattersons store where my dad and I would go Satruday mornings on the snowmobile for O.J. and a Betty & Veronica comic for me. The Drumbeater/Captain Hooks/ whatever they're calling in now restaurant where I had my first bite of calamari (years later I would discover it wasn't supposed to taste like plastic tubing or resemble a fish stick.) Then there was Pokegama Lake. We lived in this beautiful log house on Sunnybeach Road. In reality, I think we were the only people on the whole road treated to an actual sandy beach. No weeds, no rocks. It was great.
Once we arrived in town the real reason I left occurred to me. It wasn't because of the hard feelings, the kids who'd teased me, the suffocating feeling of trying to change and grow in a small town, the bad memories, the funky paper plant smell... It's that there is NOTHING to do in Grand Rapids! Seriously, you've got two options 1) Find a beach -- not as easy as you would think or 2) go to a movie. I went for door number 3) recreational eating.
It was hard to decide where to start. There was The Sawmill, wonderful steaks and the most amazing buttery, cripsy brown, melt-in-your-mouth fantastic popovers. There the Forest Lake, beautiful views of the little lake, perfect for all your pre-prom food needs. There's Hong Kong Garden the wonderful Chinese food place that I now feel a kinship with. (Their beautiful water front location burned to the ground and now they're trapped in one of the stinkiest Hotels in town. Wait. Motel.)
We decided instead to go to Sammy's Pizza.
My dad I & used to go in there for lunch together, especially the two years I skipped high school and opted for the Post Secondary option, which meant I could go to the community college and come and go as I please. Wow, was that liberating. But, we'd go in and order a half pepperoni half Sammy's special (their own homemade Italian sausage, onion and green peppers.) My dad would wave hi to Tony, the most Italian guy in the whole city and we'd sit down, open up the daily paper and not talk. And somehow, it was some of the greatest bonding. Just being together and being quiet. He was worried about what I was doing hanging around with all those college guys ("NOTHING, Dad! Geez.") I didn't have to worry about what was going to happen to my family after graduation. After I was gone.
My sweetie and I sat down and ordered a sausage pizza, a compromise in the spirit of Dad. The sausage is great, but damn if I don't continue to hate onions and green peppers on my pizza. It's a crispy thin crust and covered with gooey cheese. We first ate all of the teeny corner pieces. Then to my delight, I found myself shaking on real parmesean cheese freshly grated!! right onto my little squares of pizza. I could have eaten the entire thing. After stopping myself from doing just that. I continued to read my section of the paper while dabbing at the cheese with my index finger. And he sat there reading his section of the paper. Neither of us having to say a word and I knew it was all going to be okay again.


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