Saying goodbye doesn’t necessarily get easier over time. It just becomes a necessary evil in the life of an expat. For me, saying goodbye to my family becomes more difficult each time I leave. On the one hand, I’m excited to get back to the life that I’ve created for myself, a life that is full of adventure and new experiences. But on the other hand, I leave behind a huge part of my life that can’t be replaced, a life of comfort and security, and one that helped to define me as a person.
When they say that it takes a village to raise a child, I think they were talking about my family. I had my loving mother and father, who worked hard to provide for me and give me a happy childhood; but, I was also fortunate to have an extended family that cared for me as if I was their own child. Surrounded by amazing grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, I was fiercely loved and protected. Saying goodbye to my family is like saying goodbye to a piece of myself: I carry them in my heart no matter where I go, but it is not quite the same thing as having them right next to me.
My mother always told me to go out and see the world. And so that is what I did. Living abroad has taught me so much about the world, about my own life, and in some ways it has fundamentally changed who I am as a person. When you move abroad, especially if you move to a country that does not speak your native language, you begin to discover just how strong you are as an individual. You learn that your way of living is not the only way of living, and you come to understand that your perspective on life is only a singular drop in an ocean of viewpoints.
But part of the joy of visiting my family in Cleveland is enjoying my hometown as a visitor rather than a resident. I enjoy sightseeing and exploring my city with new eyes (albeit this trip had a lot of shopping for our new baby).
Here are some of the highlights (besides spending tons of time with family and friends) from our visit to Cleveland!
After Easter, we spent Monday shopping for baby before heading to visit my step-father’s 98 year-old dad in an assisted living center in Chagrin Falls. Though our visit was short, it was nice to see Pops, whose eyes lit up when we saw my baby bump. After our visit, we all had delicious burgers at Flipside before having a sweet ice cream treat at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. If you get the chance to have Jeni’s ice cream, do it.
|Onion Rings at Flipside in Chagrin Falls|
|The Popcorn Shop in Chagrin Falls|
|The Falls in Chagrin|
|Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in Chagrin Falls|
|Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream: Salted Caramel and Milkiest Chocolate|
On Tuesday, my mom and I went through old boxes of mine in her basement in order to declutter and prepare some of my things for shipment to Dubai. We laughed, cried, and reminisced about my childhood. I went to lunch with my mom and grandma, and did a little maternity clothes shopping, while my husband spent the day with his friend. In the evening we went to the Greenhouse Tavern with a couple of friends for some foodie eats before heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game against the Houston Rockets. We all met up with my Aunt Anne and Uncle Julian during the Cavs game, and had a blast at the Quicken Loans Arena (even though the Cavs lost).
|Uncle Julian, Auntie Anne, Me, and Husband at the Cav’s game|
|A view from the top at the Cavs’ game|
|Selfie at the game|
|Terminal Tower lit up in Crimson and Gold for the Cavs|
Wednesday we had a sushi lunch with my dad and my cousin Kevin at Pacific East at Eton. It was so nice to spend time with my dad and my cousin, and I wished the afternoon would never end. That evening, we celebrated my Cousin Kennedy’s 21st birthday at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. I can’t believe she’s already 21! We had a wonderful time catching up with so many of our family friends, and we ate a delicious Archie’s cake (my favorite cake!!!).
|Archie’s Hough Bakery Cake from Cleveland Ohio… Yum!|
The day after, I took my English Language Arts content area exam to qualify for teacher’s certification (official results pending… preliminary results indicating I passed!), and then we had lunch at Peppermint Thai with my brother Jack and a couple of my friends. We went to Buy Buy Baby in the afternoon with my mom and grandma, and went crazy shopping for baby things.
That evening, we met with my dad, my cousin Kevin, and his wife Melissa, for some delicious customized hot dogs at Happy Dog in Lakewood. This dive bar, which serves crazy concoctions on top of all-beef hot dogs, has great live entertainment in the evening. But I fell victim to pregnant-lady fatigue, so we left after only two songs. It was hard to say goodbye, especially to my dad, since this was the last time I would see him while I was in Cleveland.
Friday morning was spent finishing the purge in the basement and visiting the DMV office to renew my driver’s license. We had a quiet afternoon packing our things and then said one last goodbye to my family over takeout pizza at my mom’s house. We had a great time laughing and joking around, but our last dinner is something that I never truly look forward to while visiting Cleveland because it means the end of our trip and saying “goodbye” to my family. We said our farewells to the family, giving more hugs than humanly possible.
|Four generations of women: Mom, Grandma, Me, and Baby|
Our Saturday morning was bittersweet. We left early in the morning, gave our last goodbyes to my mom, step-dad, and brother (and the puppy dogs!), before hitting the road at 6:45am to head to the airport. I shed a few tears on the way, but looked forward to visiting Boston. Its a strange feeling, being both sad and excited at the same time. But as we flew over Cleveland, I smiled at the thought that I have so much to look forward to in the next few months.
Life is short, share in the adventure.