And so it is farewell Cleveland and hello Colombus! With no offense intended I was not sad to hit the highway out of the old place, even though our last few days there were spent very enjoyably with family and much cooking and the surprising last minute dinner invitation to one of the stage hands who had worked with Cory many years ago and who it turns out had been travelling the world for 7 years with David Copperfield's magic show (7 trucks packed and unloaded in less hours apparently. Their troupe had played 22 cities in just as many days with no hitch. Dinner was punctuated by his frustration with our crew, it looks likely that they will hire him as a full timer rather than a local guy in order to remedy the situation) leaving a strew of women and babies along the way ranging from the ages of 39 to the most recent 6 year old daughter who is at prsent enrolled at a Mensa school. He is all ragged curls and weathered skin, a Vietnam vet who Cory remembers waxing lyrical on the art of bomb making. It feels like he is on his best behaviour with me and doesn't miss a p or q, though he still appears at ease. AT least my accent hasn't put him on edge completely. Buenos Aires is where he will retire to apparently, just as soon as he has had enough of this life on the theatrical road and extrapulated himself from his thirteenth marriage that has, it would seem, brought him to sunny Cleveland. In between gulps of gnocchi (I put on a bit of a Sardinian show) and roast beef (my grandma taught me men eat one way, women another. Oh how tradition dies hard) he describes his nightly home-work with his daughter, namely the teaching of Spanish (no the mother is not mexican, its just something he feels strongly about) and reciting the globe. His daughter's teacher called the parents in to test their child when, after asking her if she could count to 100 she had calmly replied with the question "In English or Spanish?". I only get a little unsettled when he starts prophesising her entrance into college at 14 and so on, and have a flash image of those socially inept prodigy brain-children that litter our tv screens and hope that somehow she will be able to grow socially at the same rate as mentally. Perhaps that is a contradiction in terms. I find myself making mumbled apologies for the al dente, sorry, al dentures gnocchi. Perhaps twice too many times, overcompensating when I notice our guest's teeth, or lack of them. I notice too that he polishes off his beer much quicker than his pasta but choose not to take offence (Sardinian roots reach deep). So amongst, packing (I am learning to love the beast), entertaining and generally fighting in the passenger seat with our iphone's GPS (Great Punching Stuff) and bumbling our threesomeness into a Dodge's aptly named Grand Caravan (in my head we are in gypsy wagons crossing the praries) we head on to Colombus. The days of walking into junk stores opposite West Side Market meeting its Jewish owner who spoke like Dustin's Rainman Hoffman's cousin with no commas, full stops or breaths (sound familiar?) serving a bemused Spanish Psychiatrist far behind us. Our parting thoughts on whether Sacha had said yes to the marriage proposal (The banner flying plane had ditched the bacon choc for romance this week) The journey was going well until hunger struck so pulled off the highway. There was a home made peach pie at Grandpa's Cheesebarn with our names on it. In we walked into Grandpa's emporium intoxicated by the pungent spicey smells of the goods overloading every corner of shelf space. Cinnamon candles aglow, homebaked breads and cookies, teas, coffees and on and on into trinket-ville. We found ourselves a table amongst the half a dozen that were dotted along one area of the shop trying not to sit too still in case we were taken as sale goods. Near perfect seconds perhaps. The waitress came over and her shirt told us this joint was "udderly" delicious. Apparently grandpa took over an area about 30 miles from where we were and his daughter and son in law had opened this branch about 20 years ago. The boy was soon chewing on a corn dog - carefully picking off all of the corn bit (think hot dog fried in a cornmeal type batter) to get to the dog whilst his dad and I scoffed sandwiches and bean soups. Peach pie was inhaled for afters. As we made our way out we bought a whole blackberry pie for our friends (an old friend from music camp has settled an hour away from Colombus and she and her husband have invited us for dinner). A few handfuls of the free pretzel sticks and dips later and I was suddenly struck with agonising stomach cramps like my tummy had gone into full on strike. Turns out 32 chews a mouthful isn't such a bad idea after all. In I ran to the bathroom,, and in attempt to brush past this little episode, I will just say I saw my lunch a little too soon after eating if you get my drift. As I open the bathroom door (best part of 45 mins later) my husbands expression tells me the walls are rather thin. Guess they hadn't done roaring trade on the christmas section at this end of the shop then. Hey ho.I mean Ho ho. Ellen, the friendly all mid-western helpfulness sales assistant hands me iced water. I know I am looking a light shade of grey and she and I exchange a look which tells me I need not be embarassed in front of her. Almost works. Out we shuffle and into our getaway car before they commit our episode to their memories. One pee stop (and mum stop to "take a walk", I don't feel like giving an in depth explanation of regurgitation to our little fella right this minute thank you) and fifty miles past London Ohio later and we find ourselves (thank you iphone) in Springfield. The Simpson's reference is a little lost on Sammy, seeing as the houses aren't all primary shaded and so on, and, as our host later points out, that our yellow friend's home is actually Springfield Illinois. Sam clearly one beat ahead as usual. We were welcomed by a warm family poised with pizza and comfy conversation and two very articluate and friendly children who took Sammy under their wing and after dinner, onto their trampoline. We took home one happy almost 3 year old. Peperoni pizza. Jumping. Kicking balls. Doesn't take much. Pam (our hostess) and Cory had been music theatre camp sweethearts for many years and from a very young age. You can imagine the romance? Summer. Music. Camp. I need not say more. Her and husband Dennis were very gracious about me not eating (I suspect I came across rather like one of those wannabe skinny actresses who profess to eating like a horse and then just shuffle their food) The coca cola went down a treat though as did Dennis' tepid bicarb concoction. I paid for half that Oreo I succumbed to on the way home though. But enough of my gastrointsetinal incidents. I was thrilled to wake up refreshed and starving and somewhat extravagantly ordered breakfast in bed in our room. Think great coffee (brewed by the umentionables), open faced smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels with capers and red onion, poached egg topped spinach polenta with pancetta grilled tomatoes and mozzarella and freshly baked breakfast blueberry muffins. If your mouth is not watering you need to consult a doctor. All of which, of course, was eaten in one glance and actually consumed fairly poorly despite its deliciousness. When are my eyes going to get in proportion to my fuel needs?! Opened were the curtains and snuggled in bed were all three intrepid travellers, revelling in their two room suite thank you very much (we get a great deal through the company, its costing us $45 a night) and luxuriating in a good-coffee-great-pillows-special-bedding kind of a morning. Sammy was all toast and muffin. We were all bring-on-Colombus! What a different world we are in. For a start our hotel is place is in a nook amongst five or six large banks, in what I would compare to a St Pauls kind of area in London. There are people. There cabs (orange ones with a picture of an orange on the side, blue with sleeping cabbies in them) there is the hustle bustle you associate with a city. There appears to be economic robustness here in stark contrast to where we just left. I baulk at how quickly I can adjust to a room service lifestyle (my husbands expression reminds me we are trying to save up on this job. Its not all just for a blog I spose) after happily ensconcing myself into cooking overdrive (the spirit of my aunt often comes upon me at these times when in a morning I whip out a sauce, a soup, a cake and a roast. She most definitely lives on somehow. It warms my heart when Sam tells me he wants to be a chef. It woould appear genes cheat death). After taking our rental car back to the shed (leaving blackberry pie inside!) we take a stroll around the arts district. Think boutique vintage haunts, salons, posh pet shops, antiques, and, my personal favourite, paper shops. I don't mean the local rag either. I mean a shop, all distressed floors parisian bakery tabled crumbling white dresser type of shop stacked tastefully in a luxurious arrays of heart breakingly designed paper products oozing femininty and loveliness. Pure glass glitter was on the shelves. Rose shea butter hand creme (after all that correspondence the hands a need a little lovin), mini notebads touched up at the hand of an artist on a sparkle fest, and on and on and on. I was dragged out by my impatient travelling companions. Actually I used them as an excuse not to buy the shop twice over. After some more serious window shopping (there was an ornate set of parisian wooden fold down theatre seats, a copper bath and a french bed stead with our name and a FAT price tag on them) we refreshed at Rigsby's. Boys filled up with pasta, I scoffed a few shrimp and orzo. We had interesting conversation with our waiter, an English Lit graduate with a passion for all things London and then eventually found our way home. Husband was late for his sound check call (I had volunteered to be clock watch. What can I say? The Mr Men impro my son and I had going on distracted me on the job.) and we all had a little dinner downstairs at the San Fran oven, best highlight of which was the guy on the mic announcing orders when they were ready. A cook in a DJ's clothing if ever I heard one. If the music thing doesn't work out he could always find a job at Cricklewood's bingo hall no problem. I went up to collect my salad,
"How can I help you ma'am?"
"Could I have my salad please?"
"No need to say please!"
So thats why my unswerving attempts to help our son remember those little nuggets of politeness are proving to be a little tricky here. Couldn't possibly be his age and so forth. No, better to point the finger at the culture that has so far welcomed me with open if somewhat starbucked arms. Cory has now returned from work, all aglow from the jaw dropping beauty of the new venue (I have already fallen in love with it from the outside alone) and we look forward to tomorrow's day trip to the science centre and lunch at the German village with our friend Ken, the pastor at my in-law's church in upstate NY, now living in the city with his wife. I look up to see Larry David on TV, hanging on for dear life to a woman's full belly, legs dangling off the edge of a roof. My husband is popping pop corn and slugging dark horse (a beer I think. I hope). Hang on, is that a small gin and tonic he has brought up for me? Who says room service is over?