It's funny for years I looked at Ohio as a place I had to visit. I never viewed it as home - I mean, I never lived there or worked there but my mom would always say "Home is where your mother is" and in true Toni Leonetti fashion, she's right. I have spent over eighteen years visiting Columbus, Ohio and now it is possible that the last trip I made there will be my last (please note it's not 100% my last but due to Covid and life's uncertainties I can't guarantee I'll make it back.) The surprising thing about this potentially being the last trip is how it effected me. I was sad, sad thinking about the memories, and the places I wouldn't go again and the people I may not see again and the food I wouldn't eat again! I didn't expect to feel this way about Columbus, it wasn't home right?
But Columbus was where I sat drinking coffee with my grandmother as she tried to push English Muffins on me, and I swear I can still smell her toasting English Muffins, it's like her way of reminding us she's still around. Columbus is where we celebrated many Christmases including the one Andrew ruined and the first Tamy experienced with the Leonetti clan. This was the place and house where mom made us meals - lots of meals. Where we watched movies and listened to music and played Canasta. This is the house where Maggie the Cat's bell can be heard tinkling as she waddles around and where garbage day requires a full day's preparation and I'm fairly certain those picking up the garbage think we're a bunch of alcoholics.
The memories stretch back a long time, and took place during the best of times and the worst of times. I bought my first wedding dress in Ohio and though the marriage didn't last I looked damn good in that dress! Bob and I took a road trip to Ohio where we got ice cream and it leaked all over the back seat of the rental car. There was the legendary Italian Barbecue where Nicole invented the now famous Leonetti Special. Even though I hold these memories so dear I didn't think anything of the city, I didn't realize I would cry just walking through the airport. I didn't realize how much I would miss the deer that frequented my parent's yard and boy am I grateful that one night ten deer decided to show up at once!
Naturally I made the most of this trip, a final visit to Milano's, a visit to the Nutcracker Cafe, a final pint of Buckeye Blitz by Graeter's ice cream and a visit to Jeni's in Easton. Oh man Easton, could I even count the number of hours I spent there? I often went to work with my mom and I would just hang out, walk around, shop, see movies, eat. Gosh I spent more than one Black Friday in Easton and boy have we watched this place evolve over the years. This last visit to Easton didn't disappoint, decked out for Spring as if putting on it's finest to say goodbye.
Driving to the airport I cried, passing Giant Eagle which has quite a few memories for a simple grocery store, and passing the hospital where we waited anxiously for dad to wake up, talk, get well. I made big decisions in Ohio, I had tough conversations, I made great friends and I will be forever grateful. I can't say I will never visit Ohio again but let's face it, home is where your mother is and wherever she ends up that is where I will go. There will be new memories, new traditions, more meals and music and bottles of wine but Columbus, Ohio you are more special than I ever imagined and you will always hold a special place in my heart. You were home and you took care of us and now we continue on to the next adventure.