The last two days I've been driving all over Ohio. Many of the miles have been unintentional. That's okay. The weather here has been wonderful, and I've been on rural highways lined with green trees and covered by a blue sky filled with thick puffy clouds. On one drive, expected to last a few hours, I allowed the kids to watch a video. Although it netted me a few hours of quiet, I couldn't help but regret that they were missing such beautiful countryside.
It all worked out, though, since the drive took three hours, and I didn't permit a second mind-numbing distraction.
My kids have not been on their best behavior. I guess it would be too much to expect them to keep up the act for a whole week! But they haven't been horrid.
I love that they can go to the homes of strangers or near-strangers and have fun.
I love that they can hug relatives they haven't seen in a year and be comfortable with them.
I love that they can hang out at the hotel pool and make friends with the kids there.
I love going down for breakfast with one child and having him greet a strange child at breakfast by name.
I love having a minor disagreement with my husband about which way to go (when neither of us have a clue), and discovering, when he took the nearest turn to head in the basic direction that we wanted to go, that he had happened to turn onto the exact street on which I lived for two years.
I love being able to point out to my family that home, and love telling my husband how that quiet street was so noisy to my fairly rural six year old self that I had trouble falling asleep at night when we first moved there.
I love being able to guide him, from memory, to my old church and parochial school, and even remembering the name of the other Catholic Church a few blocks away.
I love stepping inside a church and finding it almost exactly as I remembered it, and love telling my children how I made my First Holy Communion there.
I love remembering a candy shop or bakery across the street where we went a few times after Mass, and looking, and seeing one right where I expected it.
I love having uncles who call me up and invite me over because I'm local, and love having uncles who say they will pick up my husband at 7 am sharp for the men-only Saturday breakfast, and love having uncles who will go to the airport at midnight to pick up my husband in late on a delayed flight, and love having uncles who will host an impromptu cookout for the whole big extended family on my behalf just because I drove up to see them all.
I have 24 hours left in Ohio. I sure hope I don't do too much extra driving. But if I do, the memories and the family will be worth it.