Monthly Archives: November 2013

Eating in Tallahassee

I am making a list of all the places I ate while in Tallahassee. Since most of my friends work, they sensibly wanted to meet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I found myself with a full schedule of eating! This is not a bad thing since breaking bread with friends is not only pleasurable, but sustaining in many ways. Of course, I also ate at the home of a long-time teaching colleague, my good friends Robin and John, book club brunch at Loree’s, and meals with my cousin, Jill, with whom I was staying. Lynda, in Weaverville, kindly made fabulous and fabulously healthy meals while I was in North Carolina. Here goes — my list which covers chain and privately owned restaurants!

Seminole Golf Course, Carrabas, Hopkins Eatery, Kool Beanz, Siam Sushi, Village Inn, Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden, Up in Smoke, Dog Et Al, Bonefish Grill, Sage (twice), Sweetgrass Dairy, Panera’s (twice). When I got home, I had an invitation to go to dinner at The Boathouse in Lake Wallenpaupack, but declined — I think I need to know exactly what I’m eating for a while. The act of “eating out” is one that provides a place to meet, drink, and eat and is especially convenient when staying at someone’s home. It gave my cousin time for her to keep up her own schedule and gave me time to have nice long visits with friends. However, noise is a factor, as is the tendency of all Tallahassee restaurants to think you want to eat as a means to an end and get out fast. “We’re not in a rush,” became the mantra of dining in Tallahassee, but there was no way to mitigate the noise in some places. Surprisingly, Dog Et Al provided a nice quiet place to catch up with Robin at a place we met for lunch now and then — far enough from the university and familiar faces, close enough to be convenient. dogetal2 My first day in Tallahassee, I met Kim for lunch at the Seminole Grill; late enough to avoid former colleagues, we sat outside to enjoy the weather and to find quiet. Each venue had a different ambience that added to the experience.

I am so fortunate to have many friends and miss them terribly. February will be my next trip south I hope if the timing works out for my hosts. I am already thinking about where to eat on this next trip — my friends and I tended to eat at the same places we went to when I lived there which was fun. Must admit — the Sweetgrass Dairy lunch of cheese, crackers, olive oil and toast points, and beer, was a high point. sweetgrass Old fashioned ice cream sodas at Lofty Pursuits with Jill also a fun stop and, by the time I return I will be seriously looking at the vintage toys they are famous for. loftypursuits

While “breaking bread” has biblical connotations, I like to think of it in a more general way — not just sharing a meal, but sharing stories, ideas, laughter, and memories. What could be better?

Home

After a 2 1/2 week trip south, driving 2200 miles, I am left with so much to think about. leavingtallyThe drive itself provided a lot (maybe too much?) time to think about the concept of home. When I decided to make the trip, it all hinged on timing — could I stay at my cousin’s home for almost 2 weeks and could I bookend the trip with stops in Weaverville, North Carolina, to visit with my dear friend. Once the timing was set, I put the dog in the back seat and went on my way, leaving my new home behind. When I arrived in Tallahassee, it felt like coming home and it should since I lived there for 37 years. However, I was struck by the thought that I have a new home and so I had to consciously try not to refer to Tallahassee as home. On the other hand, I felt a bit disloyal calling Lords Valley home.

After an absolutely wonderful time in Weaverville, Tallahassee and environs (more about that in a later post), I was reluctant to leave. The prospect of stopping in Weaverville, however, kept me from being too maudlin about leaving and the familiar drive through Georgia again left me with lots of time to think about whether home as a concept changes over time. NCmts

I visited with my former next door neighbor and good friend, Kay, taking a good long look at the house I lived in for over 30 years, where the children were raised. I thought about a time when we first bought the house and I stood across the street hardly believing that this would be my new home, where we would make memories, have a second child, and four dogs! When I looked at it, at first it made me a bit sad, but then it became just a house, no longer a home to me. It was only a home when I lived in it. Because travel in and out of Tallahassee is cumbersome to say the least, had I stayed I would see my children only a couple of times a year unless I traveled north. My new home in the Poconos is a different kind of home — for one (and one dog of course) — but one that still has the potential for building memories of family and friends, just in a different way.

Two homes — that’s the conclusion I have come to — I can comfortably call Tallahassee home as well as Lords Valley. When I discussed these ideas and feelings with my friend, Lynda, she simply said that I am where I’m supposed to be. Close to family, within driving distance of the greatest city in the world. But, close to family is the most important thing and that which makes a place a home. I used to stand at the end of the hall and look down into the kitchen, out to the carport and think, “This is a great home and I love it.” Now, I do the same thing here, looking out at the woods, looking at the fireplace and thinking, “This is a nice home and I love being close to my children and grandchild.” I am still struggling with the concept of home but have made peace for now with having two homes that mean two different things.

Back in Tallahassee

After my last post, I received a lot of concerned phone calls and emails from my friends who apparently took my comments about feeling trapped by decisions I made very seriously. I appreciate that very much and took their concern as a sign that a trip south was in order. So, packed the dog in the car and left Lords Valley for Weaverville, North Carolina, before heading further south to Tallahassee. After a terrific visit with my friend, Lynda, I drove into Tallahassee to stay with Cousin Jill for almost 2 weeks. That’s a long visit I know, but it is very relaxed and gives me a chance to see lots of people! Sydney and Zelda are getting along very well and enjoying their early morning walks. sydandzelda

So, now that you’ve read the introduction, let me tell you that you can absolutely go home again and feel just as comfortable as ever! My book club had a special Saturday meeting to accommodate my visit and it was just like I had never left. What a joy to spend time with such vibrant and interesting women. We all love our book clubs, but I think mine is very special! The virtual book club that I belong to is wonderful too, but there is no substitute for face to face not to mention the mimosas and food!

Since most of my friends are still working people, I am eating far too much and too often! All of my lunches and dinners are scheduled and the time is going much too quickly. Siam Sushi, Kool Beanz, Village Inn, Hopkins Eatery, so far and of course Jill’s. A few nights ago we made a one pot pasta dish that was fabulous — I strongly recommend googling one pot pasta and trying it. You will be surprised and it’s very versatile — you can add whatever you want to it. It’s good for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans!!

Tallahassee is as beautiful as ever and it would be hard to find a place more lovely in the morning. park Coffee, lunch, dinner with friends and former co-workers reminds me how grateful I should be to not be involved in the stress, politics, and inconsistencies of working for a large institution.

So I’ve really come full circle thanks to friends and family. From feeling trapped in Pennsylvania because I chose to pick up, leave everything familiar, and live far from what I knew for 37 years, to feeling fortunate to be close to my children and granddaughter and having a life that others envy (for reasons that I’m still trying to understand). I don’t have much money but I do have a fabulous place to stay in Tallahassee and, what’s more important to me, the freedom and flexibility to enjoy the best of both worlds. Dinner last night with Libby and Brian reminded me to think of others and put my own perceived problems in a larger context. Jill has helped me look at other people in new ways after a trip to the Tallahassee Senior Center art show and wreathes and sweets. While this post may not be the most interesting, isn’t particularly entertaining, it is important for me to set right some things after my last post. Try going home again — it is therapeutic. Try one pot pasta with a friend — it’s delicious! Try taking the time to see the beautiful morning, the space station passing over, the blimp in town for the big game. Looking at the big picture helps me appreciate the smaller one!