It’s our final evening on this trip to Columbus, we will have dinner with friends we met when we were neighbors int he Walhalla Ravine. They are picking us up tonight, in the alley behind the house where we’re staying. We stand in the garage waiting for them. When a car comes up the alley, we try to judge if it could be them or not. In the dark, the glaring headlights obscure the shape of the vehicle behind it. It’s impossible to tell. When a car stops several houses before they one we’re at, we step out and wave. But they aren’t looking our way and we are unsure if it’s them or not.
Eventually, they see us standing in the road and pull up. It is them. We arrange ourselves in the truck, me and Cindy in the back and Jeff and Pat up front. I tell Jeff that there is a home OSU game and that George suggested taking North Broadway to avoid traffic. North Broadway is the opposite direction from where we want to go and seems out of the way, so Jeff decides to take us straight through the heart of campus instead, hoping to take Neil Ave to Lane Ave. We’re eating at a new restaurant in Upper Arlington, so this would be the most direct route.
Unfortunately, as less optimistic Columbus locals might have predicted, Lane Ave is closed through campus. Had Ackerman been open, there might have been some hope of getting out that way, but the bridge is being replaced and we cannot get over the river. We head back up Lane in the opposite direction we want to go. We next try going down Pearl Alley. It’s back-to-back traffic with no where to go. It’s now about time for our reservation. I look up the restaurant and let them know that we’re on our way, but caught in game traffic. They say it’s no problem, so we all take a deep breath and relax as Jeff wrestles his way through the thick of OSU football traffic. We end up on Fifth Ave eventually, working our way back to Lane. After a few more turns through traffic, we make it to Lane Ave feeling like we’ve gone on an OSU safari.
A half an hour after our reservation, we arrive at the restaurant. Fortunately, they still have a table for us and we sit down to enjoy “Asian Fusion.” I’m always a little perplexed by “fusion” restaurants. Somehow, the use of the word “fusion” in the context of food makes me think they are preparing two or more distinct styles of food and then searing them together with a blow torch or something. Given that this has never turned out to be the case, I find myself wondering why they don’t say “blend.” Or how about, “Americanized <type of food>.” Is there something inherently appetizing about the word “fusion” that I’m just not getting?
In any case, the food is OK. It’s a background to catching up with our friends, so I can’t say I really care that it’s not exciting enough to distract me. Not that I don’t like to combine visiting with friends with really good food. But, not great food goes down a lot easier when smothered in friendly conversation.
These friends have not been reading my blog, either. This is a relief to me. First of all, I hate repeating myself, something I do more and more often even without considering the blog. Second, Cindy is an editor for a newspaper and I’m not sure I can handle the pressure of knowing a pro is reading my blog.
We have plenty to talk about. But, sometimes recounting what we’ve done just seems dull. The thing I really want to talk about is how bad I am at hang gliding. Really, it’s the realization of what it’s like to be really bad at something and to keep struggling and struggling to learn it that fascinates me. Jeff and Cindy seem to get this. The experience of a level of empathy that I’ve never really fully experienced for this type of situation before.
We swap stories of what we’ve been up to and what our plans for Thanksgiving are until all the food is gone and it’s time to wrap up and head out the door. I suggest we walk over to Graeter’s for dessert. After all, it’s our last day in Columbus and we have yet to eat any Graeter’s since arriving. We all agree and head out the door. It’s surprisingly warm for mid-November. I expected to be freezing all week, but there has been only one day that was bitterly cold so far. The wind is kicking up, but it actually has a balmy sort of feel to it. This is good because it’s hard for me to enjoy ice cream when I’m shivering.
The black raspberry chip is as delicious as usual. The big chunks of dark chocolate melt from too-cold chocolate into a creamy mouthful of goodness just like always. I have tried a lot of ice cream in my life, but none has ever compared to Graeter’s. Not famous Italian ice in Rome, not farm fresh ice cream in Utica, not Tilamook dairy ice cream in Oregon, not Ben and Jerry’s, and not even home made. I will take Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip, the only fruit-flavored ice cream I’ve ever liked, over any of it. The transformation of the chocolate from solid to liquid in your mouth is a religious experience.
We sit and talk over our ice cream before venturing back across the street to the car. There are teenagers in this place. I try to remember being an age where you want to be out doing amazingly fun things but you don’t really know what to do, so you go back to something age appropriate that you know you like. Oh wait, that’s now. And look, we all ended up at the same place.