I had not taken the drive in well over two decades. At first, I was not excited about making the 12 hour drive to Cleveland, Ohio. Still, I had to take the trip. I needed to get back up to my hometown since Mom and Dad needed help in the early stages of clearing out their house. For this trip, I needed a car to take some of my old stuff back down here to my adopted home in metro Atlanta. I didn’t take all my personal belongings when I moved down to the South in summer 1989. I visited Cleveland over the years, but never had the opportunity to bring everything back down to my adopted hometown.
Clearing out my parents’ house is a tall order. After all, Mom and Dad have over 50 years worth of memories and well, general clutter in their home. They were in this home for about 20 years and before that, they were in their starter home for 31 years. Even the most anti-clutter person can accumulate too many assorted tchotchkes over time.
For the past few months, family members have been coming in and clearing out the house room by room. It’s a challenge. How does one separate the precious memories from the junk? In my parents’ home, gems are hidden within the clutter.
Cami and I jumped into her 2009 Corolla to make the trek on a crisp weekend morning. My ’03 Matrix needed a well-deserved rest. She took the wheel and drove up to Berea, Kentucky. At that point, we pulled off the road to the rest areas plenty of times. When I did the solo trip to visit the family in autumn 1990, I believe I made one stop in Cincinnati. How times changed in that way and more! From Berea, I drove to Cleveland with plenty of Cracker Barrel, rest-stop visits and dinner with one of my sisters in nearby Medina.
It was cold, dark and a bit rainy upon our arrival. The next day, it was time to clear the basement. I found several “treasures” in that deep “cavern” which my mother has not visited in quite some time – or so she claims. From an Uncle Sam coin dispenser to Cleveland Indians paraphernalia to defunct electronics, clearing out the basement was indeed a tough task, but it was filled with mostly nice surprises including forgotten photos, rare audio and video tapes. It’s tough to explain the thrill when one discovers items that have not been seen in years.
I used to say all the time that going back to where I grew up is like a time-warp. After all, Cleveland did not grow like the Atlanta metro area has over the past 30 years. Whenever I would go back to Cleveland, it always seemed to me that so many things have not changed since I left Ohio’s north coast. On this recent visit, many things have changed. Old buildings have come down and new businesses have moved in over the past few years. I think things are looking up, but this “swing state” has a lot of work to do in its future. Speaking of “swing states,” my relatives are currently being bombarded with political ads in a nasty U.S. Senate race as well as the race for the White House.
But, I did not just come up to retrieve material items. Material items are nothing compared to meeting up with family and the remaining friends that I have left on Cleveland's east side. The time quickly slips away, I remind myself. I cherished the moments and hope for many more in the future.