Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Six hours, five states

Following the sage advice of one of my blog mentors, I will not apologize for not having posted in so long. When I decided to start a blog, I vowed that I would not let it consume my life, and I seem to be succeeding at that, though I do wish I was able to post more often. I check my blog daily to see if readers have left comments, and sometimes I think wistfully (and rather ridiculously), "I wish this chyck would post more often. I kind of like what she has to say." Oh, to read my own carefully arranged words without putting in the effort to launch them into the blogosphere.

But I digress. The purpose of this post is to update you on my Thanksgiving adventures, which were, as adventures go, rather tame.

My family on my mother's side has gathered for many a Thanksgiving in my hometown of Charleston, W.V., where my grandparents, and my great-grandparents before them, lived. When I was growing up, my sister and I would spend alternate Thanksgivings at home in Charleston and in Washington, D.C. with our other grandparents and our father (who separated from, and later divorced, my mom when I was less than a year old). The Thanksgivings in Charleston were always more enjoyable, mostly because we could actually eat the food. My Washington grandparents usually took us to a gathering of their friends, in which a very non-kosher turkey basted with butter was served.

From the Charleston gatherings, I have many warm memories of being doted upon by my grandmother's siblings, being shooed out of the kitchen, and playing with my three cousins. The year I was nine, I also recall being stricken with a case of "turkey pox" -- chicken pox with uncanny timing.

During my college years, and the years since then, we continued to gather in Charleston for Thanksgiving, with a couple of exceptions, and we did so even last year, even though my grandfather was very weak and not able to spend too much time at the meal before needing a nap. After he passed away over the summer, we sort of agreed as a family to gather in Cincinnati instead, where my aunt and two cousins (one of whom is married with children) live. This was practical for a number of reasons. First, Cincinnati is now the city where more family members live than any other and second, kosher food in large quantities is easier to come by in Cincy than in West Virginia. For most of the last 15 years or so, my aunt would import Thanksgiving dinner and two Shabbos meals to Charleston.

While I missed driving through the West Virginia hills and having that feeling of really being home, I had a wonderful time with my mom, stepdad, and cousins. My sister and her husband spent Thanksgiving this year with his side of the family in Zanesville, Ohio. I was sad I would miss seeing her this year, until my mom pointed out that my drive from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati would take me right through Zanesville on I-70.

I called my sister a couple of days before the holiday, and made arrangements to meet her at her newly married brother-in-law's home, where the Smith family would be gathering. Since my family would be eating Thanksgiving dinner in the evening, I left Pittsburgh at mid-morning and stopped in Zanesville after the Smiths had finished the bulk of their meal, which was a very impressive spread. I stayed at their place for about 40 minutes, lunching on my cheese sandwich (the meal wasn't kosher) as they polished off some pie. It was a nice laid-back gathering (unlike my family which is very high strung), and it was a fun stop on my trip.

From there, I drove most of the rest of the way to Cincy, stopping at a rest area north of Lebanon, Ohio to daven mincha. I called my aunt from there to say I would be there in a half hour, I was "north of Lebanon."

The drive back had its own amusements. I was a bit lost in thought as I began my trip, and took a wrong turn leaving Cincinnati. I realized as I made the turn that I might be going the wrong way, but the road signs seemed familiar, so I kept going. I started worrying when I saw signs for "Indianapolis this lane."

I wasn't as hopelessly out of the way as it sounds. You see, Cincinnati is in the southwest corner of Ohio, very close both to Indiana and Kentucky. Since I had managed to get myself on I-275 going the wrong way, I wound up looping into Indiana and then Kentucky (ironically, for a few minutes I was south of Hebron, K.Y.) before getting onto I-71 North, which took me back through downtown Cincy and back past the exit to get to my aunt's house -- about an hour after I started the trip.

I was frustrated but figured, hey, how often do you get to visit five states in one day? (The trip back to Pittsburgh involves going through Wheeling, W.V.) Such were my adventures -- from north of Lebanon, to south of Hebron without ever leaving the midwest. All in about 6 hours or so.


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