Last year the theme of my time in Ohio was stuff. This year it isn't the stuff around the house that's drumming up memories, but the place itself. I realized, while driving down Graham Road the other day, that I don't just see the medical building on my left; I see the Place I Got My Shots for Mexico. I see the Karaoke Lounge Where I First Did White Rabbit, the Place Where M. D. Used To Live, and The Bowling Alley Where I Tripped and Had To Get Stitches. It's as though there is a map inlaid over the land and buildings here, a map of compounded memories. I know what used to be where, what isn't anymore. I involuntarily recalled all the kids who had gotten in car accidents on Route 8, and between which exit ramps.
It's been a bit of a trick navigating my way around town. We've been gone for almost four years - not long enough to forget how to get where I need to go, but long enough to forget the short cuts I figured out in college. Part of my problem is that I employ an entirely different mode of orientation in Southern California. N, S, E, W, and sometimes NW, SW, NE, and SE. I always know if I'm going East or West on our leg of Sepulveda Boulevard. In Stow (my real hometown, though I have, on occasion, claimed Kent instead), I couldn't tell you the cardinal directions of any of the main roads, except perhaps for Route 59, as it takes you to Portage County, which I know is east of Summit.
In Ohio, Karin Berguist sings, "I know Ohio like the back of my hand." I never really thought I could sing along honestly to that line, but now I'm not so sure. I know it more deeply than any other place in the world. Though when I looked at a couple maps of the area yesterday, I didn't recognize a thing. I never needed to look at a map. If I wanted to get to the mall, I just turned right at Ernest Angley's Grace Cathedral, which used to be Rex Humbard's Cathedral of Tomorrow, otherwise known as The Place Where Mama Almost Sent Me to Kindergarten Because That's Where The Babysitter's Kids Went.
The way the trees are dense with chlorophyll against the jewel-blue thunderstorm sky; the serpentine path of the Cuyahoga River and the way it strings together the towns in these parts; the way the sky is so brilliantly orange with storm right this moment that I have to finish this sentence to go watch the rain, again.