My visit to Ohio this fall has been something of a blur, and as a result I do have some difficulty distinguishing between the days. “Well Megan,” – I hear you say – “If you’d just updated your blog as you went along instead of uploading twelve posts at once, it would’ve been exponentially easier”. Whatever. I know I had plenty of time on my hands – believe me, the piles of schoolwork, photos still on my camera, untouched Secret Mission and creaseless Spanish novels in my carry-on baggage are quite enough testimony to that – but I couldn’t really help but see this trip as something of a holiday. I couldn’t even really tell you what I did all day – at least, on the days when I stayed home. If I had to make a guess, I’d say my daily activity distribution would look something like this:
To be fair, though, most of my eating was done along with any of the above.
Not so much sleeping, although I have been known to chew imaginary candy whilst I slumber.
In any case, I was infinitely more productive when I went on campus with Grant, which is why, as my essay deadline approached, I spent a lot more time in the atrium of Akron Law School than I had during my first week – more on that later. My point is, while it’s not easy remembering what happened when, the visit has sort of been divided into chunks, consisting mostly of pre-Zanesville and post-Zanesville.
Yes, visiting the Stubbins family in Y-city was the focal point of the trip. Arriving back at Ash Meadows Blvd. was a big deal for me – I couldn’t really fathom the idea that I’ve only visited once before. Granted, I was there for three full weeks last time, but I feel like I know it better than that. I’ve also started catching myself saying things like “Well, this time I flew Edinburgh-Paris-Cincinnati-Columbus, but usually it’s Edinburgh-Amsterdam-Detroit-Columbus… – and by ‘usually’, I mean ‘the only other time I’ve made the trip’”. In any case, this time it was a little different in that Grant’s bed is now in Akron so we had to crash in his sister’s room while we were there – and also in that we were only there for two days – yet somehow I felt more comfortable and settled-in. When we first walked in, Grant’s mum was there to greet us, and I chatted to her for a bit and put my bags away, and then Blake and Mr. Stubbins came home from some sort of school sport thing, and we headed out to an event going on at Grant’s aunt Susan’s studio. She makes a lot of super-cool art out of random found objects like coins and things. I’d love to buy something of hers when I have money to spend on proper art, and when I have my own place to put it in.
So we headed into downtown Zanesville for this event, and to go to dinner for my birthday after. On the first Friday of every month, Susan and the other artist who shares the studio (also called Susan) open the place up to the public and put all their work on display – and, of course, for sale. When Grant’s mum told Susan it was my birthday, first of all she smiled and said “Oh, happy birthday!” – but then her face fell and she said “Oh no… another November birthday”.
Everyone in Grant’s family, except Blake, has their birthdays in November, so it’s a pretty expensive time of year. I felt bad adding to it, but it works the other way around too! I spent the last several weeks getting orders shipped out to Grant in Akron – gifts for him, for Kara, for Amanda, for both his parents – and now that I’m getting back guess what’s coming up? Only the birthdays of my father, grandfather and two uncles. Here’s hoping my bank account will have time to recuperate before Christmas… Not likely. Expect handmade gifts this year, folks!
Still, despite my protestations, I really do enjoy getting gifts for people. I would much rather spend £20 on a gift that someone will love than on a couple of CDs or a new pair of jeans. No, seriously. When Kara saw the earrings I’d got for her and told me I’d got it exactly right, I can’t tell you how good it felt. Besides, it’s not as though the family wasn’t generous in return. Grant’s parents took us both out for dinner downtown, at Zak’s – a classy, cozy venue with a huge variety of food due to their second function as caterers. I think Mr. and Mrs. Stubbins were pretty impressed when I managed a plate of deep-fried jalapeño poppers followed by a chimichanga, and still could have managed cake when we got home… Maybe “impressed” isn’t the right word. Either way, it was really generous of them to take us out, and also to buy a carrot cake for the occasion! They made me feel so welcome, just like last time.
I did say that I could have managed cake when we got home, but I didn’t. Nobody else was in any state to be eating cake, and I didn’t want to blow out candles and cut the cake and then tuck in by myself – that would have just been rude. Instead, we decided to just chill out and watch a movie. We settled on Letters to Juliet – it was pretty mediocre right up until the end, at which point it just became farcical. And not even in a deliberate way. To me, though, it was enjoyable just to curl up under a blanket with Grant on the family-room sofa, and laugh at lame movies with his parents.
One of the things I’ve missed most about Zanesville is the cozy atmosphere in Ash Meadows, and how at-home I feel whenever I’m there. We ended up having a chilled-out evening and heading to bed pretty early – Sunday was the day of Grant and Kara’s birthday celebrations, and friends and family would be winging their separate ways over to the house for a wiener roast in the evening.
On Sunday Grant drove me over to his Grandfather’s house to visit with him. I got the full tour of the impressive house, in which I got to see some old keepsakes from his time in the military, and some super-cool family heirlooms. Grant’s grandfather is one interesting man! After that, we headed over to his grandma’s house to chat, and I dragged Grant around Hobby Lobby whilst I searched for crafty things. I settled on a book on scrapbooking, and a little bag of baseball buttons, which I accidentally shoplifted before realising my mistake and going back to pay for.
Back at home, it came time for the guests to arrive, and we greeted Grant’s grandma, aunt and cousins, as well as his and Kara’s friends. We sat around the fire, ate hot-dogs and smores, drank apple cider and challenged Blake to answer stupid questions. After a while of the dihcotomic freezing-butt and burning-face of sitting by the bonfire, we headed inside to open presents. Grant had already given me mine on the morning of my birthday – a candy cane-scented candle, an Akron Law t-shirt and sweatshirt, and an 18-month calendar filled with pictures of our time together – and I’d already given him most of his. I am not particularly adept in the art of self-restraint, and so I prematurely produced his beaker-shaped mug (a contribution towards his dream of a chemistry lab-themed kitchen just like the student union at USC), his triple-photo frame and his knitted mug cozy, so that by the time the gift-giving was upon us on Sunday evening, I had no gifts left to give him. I gave Kara the earrings I’d bought for her, and Mr. and Mrs. Stubbins received their gifts then too – though their birthdays were later in the month, I would have been gone by that time. For Grant’s mum I bought some Saskatoon berry jam and some tartanny coasters, and Mr. Stubbins received Gregory’s Girl on DVD and Ian Rankin’s first Inspector Rebus novel. I left Amanda’s vintage French advertisement poster for her to collect when she came home for Thanksgiving.
The Stubbins family were so incredibly generous towards me, I was left speechless. When Grant had told me his parents had bought me gifts, I was surprised enough, considering that they were hosting me during my stay – but when we piled inside for the gift-opening festivities, I had gift bags not only from the Stubbins family, but from Grant’s grandma, aunt Di and cousins Megan and Melissa too! I was more than startled to see such an array of kindness, and felt immediately guilty for not having brought more gifts for everyone; but, of course, I eagerly opened the gifts and was delighted to find a beautiful scarf and gloves from Di, lovely flower earrings from his grandma, and some delicious lotions from his cousins and close family. I received a lot of jewellery, but also a gorgeous patterned jewellery hanger to keep it all safe in. I have a lot of lovely jewellery but, locked away in a box somewhere, it’s often forgotten. Now it hangs in my wardrobe when I get dressed in the morning and calls to me. My favourite gift from the family, though, was my new white hooded fleece, which I’ve been wearing close to non-stop since that Sunday.
After the gift-giving, us kids went down to the basement to watch a couple of episodes of The Office, before the guests began to head out. Grant and I called it a night soon after and went to bed, ready to rise early the next morning and return to Akron before his class started. We were both pretty disappointed, I think, to be leaving behind such an enjoyable weekend – especially since this was to be our last week together before I went back to Scotland – but we ended up finding plenty of stuff to do with ourselves during the week. You’ll see – I will update again at some point over the course of my life. Watch this space!
‘Til next time, folks.