They say you can never go home. And they lie.
I'm back in Nebraska for the weekend. My college friend Patrick married his Husker sweetheart, Amanda, last night in a short, but kind wedding at St. Paul's in downtown Lincoln. Aside from a lot of Christy-talk, it was a nice ceremony. The song was strange, as it was about the "beauty of Christ's body." Being me, it made me squirm a little in my seat. I guess there's nothing beautiful about a crucified body, in my opinion. Though I imagine it was metaphorical, I don't get that kind of stuff. The reception that followed was small, beautiful and what I'd hope mine could be. It wasn't ritzy (the steak was delicious, though), but had a flare of class. The music options (some Sinatra, and other big band tunes) were astounding, not to mention that the cake was moist as anything I've ever had. The best part? The jellybeans on the tables. Kudos, my man. Kudos. The bride and groom were dashing, and I nearly cried after finishing my dollar dance with Patrick. There's something about seeing a good friend happy, glowing in what they really deserved that makes you want to cry for them. In happiness, of course. Mazel tov, my friends.
The trip has gone quite well so far.
We went to South Street temple on Friday night, and I can't even begin to describe how fulfilling it was. If there's one thing I miss most in my life, the one thing that if I could top it all off right now and be completely happy, it would be to be able to be with my synagogue family again. It's been more than a year since last I went to temple there, but I fell right back in. Rabbi Emanuel welcomed me to read a bit from the siddur (which was so nice, considering it will be eons before I'm asked to read at our new synagogue in Chicago) and there was a baby name ceremony, so myriad people were there. All of the old friends -- Barb, Deb, the Zlotskys, the rabbi and his family, Sara and her husband -- everyone was there. It seems I've missed a lot in the past year. Babies, engagements, catastrophe at the Conservative synagogue in town (which I INTEND on finding all about, of course). I miss my friends there. I miss the Torah studies and conversation. It's so hard to get to the new temple on Saturdays for Torah study, when it takes an hour and a half by transit to make it there. But it was reassuring, reaffirming, and uplifting to be there again. The place where I kindled my faith and found a home and a family among all the world's Israelites. It will always be my home, and each time I come back is a reminder that no matter how lost and far away I feel, I always have somewhere to go back to.
We hit the Starlite Lounge Friday night, where we ran into Johnny and other old Daily Nebraskan chums. I fell in love with the Tom Collins and relished in the hipness of the place I used to go every Thursday for free appetizers and cheaply priced faux martinis. There was Bison Witches yesterday afternoon for lunch, which I was happy that Ian loved. If I could franchise a restaurant, that might be it. We visited Target and went to the wedding, topping the night off with some Runza to fill our stomachs. If you've never had a Runza burger, then you're missing out. It's another restaurant I'd like to franchise -- if only so I could eat the burgers and fries for the rest of my days. Even Ian, a burger/food connoseur and the toughest critic I know, said it was the best fast food burger he'd ever had (topping Inn-N-Out, among others). Today it was Frenchees and the Coffee House, the latter being a staple of the College Years for me.
Either way, every place felt like home. It's quiet, being summertime with classes out. The college kids make up a big chunk of the heart of this city, which is why when many graduate they move on to Omaha -- it keeps that umph that many miss from college around these parts. But it's flat, and the buildings are low. I took Ian out to my "spot" -- Alvo Road at 14th Street -- where you can see every star in the sky, no matter what type of night it is. Big Dipper, Cassiopia, you name it, it's there. It's a gravel road that leads somewhere, though I'm not sure where. I've always just pulled right in, turned off the engine and killed the lights. It's the kind of place where you can just hold your breath and hear all the sounds of the world. There are few places left like that, and definitely none in Chicago.
When they say you can never go home, they lie. I'm back where I used to be and I feel as though I've never left. I settled right in at synagogue and Bison Witches and among the streets of Lincoln. There are new roads, new people, new restaurants and structures, but it's all the same old shoe. It's comforting and I couldn't be happier to be back. So now I know that the myth is a lie, and I couldn't be happier.