It Never Gets Old

NJRW posted the finalists in the Put Your Heart in a Book contest.  The only thing cooler than seeing my name on this list is seeing Laura’s name there too.  This isn’t the order of finish as of right now, but as far as I’m concerned, it should be.  (But okay, yeah, winning would be pretty damn cool too.)

I’ve been mad at work on edits/rewrites to Gabriel’s Angel.  If the stars align in my favor, I might have it done this weekend.  It’s been a blast, visiting with old friends all over again, creating a new story for them.  I really do love these two.  Just when I finish a story and I think, “I’m crazy for these people; what else can I do?” a new pair comes along and I fall in love all over again.

Okay, back to the job at hand…


Homeward Bound

I read Lee Lofland’s blog this morning about an old woman who escapes from a nursing home, and all she says is, “I want to go home.  I want to go home.  I want to go home.”  (I highly recommend reading it before you put makeup on.)  It triggered the thought in my mind:  What is home?

Billy Joel once sang, “Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike.”  Trust me, we drove it from one end to the other this past weekend.  Home is NOT the Pennsylvania Turnpike. 

Home is where the heart is. 

Over the years I’ve become convinced that home isn’t a place.  I’ve lived in a few different houses in my life, and I don’t feel that much of a connection to them anymore.  I wasn’t upset when my parents sold the house I grew up in.  I was more upset about the slaughtered deer in the back yard than about leaving my first apartment, the site of my first foray into independence and adulthood.  When I moved out of the first house I ever owned–a gorgeous 100 year old mansion with 6 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and a ghost–I wasn’t that upset because I had a new life to look forward to. 

On a cool spring evening in the house where we currently live, I took some knitting to the front porch and watched the world go by.  Alex went out to ride his scooter, and the neighbor kids rolled with him on the front lawn ’til the ice cream man showed up.  Relaxed in the fading sunlight, I felt like I was home.  Such peace and contentment, like if they could solidify that moment in amber, I’d be fine. 

For Fourth of July, we stood on the corner at the other side of the block and watched the parade (and they put on a great little neighborhood parade!).  In that moment, laughing and smiling with my neighbors, feeling an intense sense of belonging to something bigger than myself, I felt like I was home. 

Sitting next to my hubby in Citizens Bank Park with a lemonade and a hot dog, watching my favorite team play my favorite sport on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I felt like I was home. 

Laughing my butt off with my bestest best friends at the NJRW conference last October, I felt like I was home. 

Sitting in front of the computer, my fingers flying over the keyboard as the story drains out of my head, I’m very much at home. 

Home isn’t a place.  It’s a state of being. 

John and I have done everything we can to make this new (well, “new to you”) house a home for the boys, but one day they’ll grow up and make homes of their own somewhere else, separate and apart from us.  We’ve both called other places “home”, and even though moving was a b*tch, we very well might find another home in our lifetime.  You never know what curve balls life will throw at you.  The best thing about it is knowing that home is a moveable feast. 

And to my sweet, hard-working, long-suffering husband of 6 years as of this Sunday, just like Billy Joel said, “Home is just another word for you.”

Blake’s Story

We spent the weekend in and outside Canton, Ohio for the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement.  It was one big party and we had a wonderful time, but I’m almost glad to be home, especially since I scheduled myself for a day off afterward.  Eleven hours in the car, either as driver or passenger, will make that necessary.  In one day I went from an hour into Ohio, across PA from one side to the other, and into New Jersey and back.  I don’t want to cross another state line again until I absolutely have to.

On Saturday morning we had some extra time so we slept in, goofed off, and then went looking for food.  Unfortunately our hotel–which was WONDERFUL, by the way–was off the beaten path, so the choices were limited to McD’s, Subway, or the gas station/CircleK.  We drove Massillon Ave for a while but didn’t see anything.  (We did find My Sister’s Yarn Shop but didn’t stop.  Idon’tneedmoreyarnIdon’tneedmoreyarnIdon’tneedmoreyarn…)  Since we also hadn’t made any coffee in the hotel room and we missed their breakfast buffet, coffee was a key priority.  Finally we passed a shopping center with a nice little place on the corner called Blake’s Cafe & Cupcakery, so we decided to give it a shot.  After all, a muffin can be quite filling.  😉 

It turns out the place is fantastic.  It’s decorated like a Starbucks with a much more homey feel.  In the middle there’s a fake fireplace, two overstuffed leather couches and a chair around a coffee table; the volume on the TV was tuned down so as not to be obtrusive but enough to keep our fleeting attention.  The cupcakes looked scrumptious.  We placed our order and they said they’d bring it out to us.  I felt comfortable.

While we waited, I read the little brochure on the table and got an instant feeling of home from this place.  I hope they don’t mind that I’m retyping it but I wanted to share:

“Blake’s Story…

In 2000, we gave birth to our beautiful son, Blake.  Almost 3 years later, he was diagnosed with autism.  He was the one in every 150 kids…the one out of every 94 boys…to have the disorder.  And although we never would’ve wished to have a child with a disability, we can truly say that we feel very blessed to have him in our lives exactly the way he is.  He has taught us how to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and, most importantly, how to love absolutely unconditionally, no matter what.

If you’re a regular customer, you will undoubtedly see Blake in the cafe from time to time.  Though Blake is highly functioning, please know that he has a difficult time explaining his thoughts and may sometimes act differently or say things that are unexpected.  Please be understanding and compassionate, recognizing that these behaviors are simply a part of autism.

When we decided to open this business in 2009, we named it Blake’s Cafe & Cupcakery in honor of him, not only to draw attention and awareness to this disability which affects so many children and adults, but also with the hopes that someday he will (be) capable of running the business.  He often says that after he finishes elementary school, he’ll go to middle school, then to high school, then college, and finally, to Blake’s to work.  We pray he’s right.

He is the reason we are here for you.  Thank you for your business.”

Chalk up another day of wasted makeup.  🙂 

The food was fantastic and the coffee was heavenly!  I really REALLY wanted a cupcake but alas, by the time I’d eaten my buffalo chicken wrap and drank my coffee, I had no room left for a cupcake.  Same on Sunday when I made John take us back there.  (I was not about to leave the state without a copy of “Blake’s Story”, in a holder by the register.)

If you happen to pass through the Uniontown, Ohio area, please make a point of stopping at Blake’s.  I was disappointed I didn’t get to meet  Blake in person but it was the weekend, and he was probably doing what any 9 year old kid does on summer weekends.  I was also disappointed I didn’t get a cupcake, so get one for me while you’re there, please.  I fell madly in love with the place and I’ve already told a few friends, if I win PowerBall, I’m calling the owners, Derek & Marcie Williams, and asking about franchising opportunities.  I’m sure our Alex would love to work in a Blake’s, too.