In the beginning, my upcoming trip was about finding my center, reconnecting with myself, and regaining my faith. Yet today, I do not feel like that is enough. To undertake this trip for purely me-centric reasons would not garner the results I seek. So the scope and nature has changed. If I truly just wanted to find myself, I could stay home locked in a room and I would save a lot of money and time. Now, after much contemplation, I realize I need to see things, experience things and connect with other people who are not me. Those experiences will bring about change, I realize now I have to leave myself in order to find what I am looking for.
Last night after work, Mike and I decided to do a mini-version of my trip. We set out to find experiences that would touch our souls. With no particular plan, we headed north to Fairport Harbor. The plan was to have a quick dinner at a local restaurant and look at the lake for a while. What we experienced was so much more.
First stop, The Jerky Station (400 Water Street) in Chardon. We were nearly out of gas and decided that it would be best to get some before our excursion. Having never been to this particular gas station, we stopped. We pulled up to the pump and before Mike could get out, a gentleman appeared at our window ready to pump the gas for us. He then proceeded to wash the windows, the headlights and the taillights. Service like this was normal when I was a child (yes, I am that old) but it has been gone for many a year. We started talking and ended up staying about 20 minutes looking at their store full of pickles, condiments, sauces, rubs, and really so much more. Laughter and great stories ensued. As we pulled out of the driveway, our hearts were warmed by the genuineness of real people.
Second stop, Fairport Harbor Restaurant (212 High Street) in Fairport. This adorable diner-like restaurant served good food at great prices. The nautical theme puts you in the mood for a day at the beach and the people were fun and friendly. We enjoyed our meal very much. The place was extremely busy but you never got the feeling you were in the way… a great place!
Third stop, The Gravel Pit (225 High Street). Surrounding the restaurant is a row of shops, pubs and even a museum. We decided to pop into The Gravel Pit and check them out. What we saw was totally unexpected. The boutique was tastefully decorated with refurbished furniture beautifully hand-painted, well-conditioned antiques (I eyed two manual typewriters that were in pristine condition – a writer’s dream), hand-made soaps, jewelry and other wonderful items. It was a true eclectic mix of new and old. We stayed and chatted about how there was a real interest in revitalizing the area and making it a great place for a day trip or longer. We laughed, traded stories and left feeling like we had made new friends (check The Gravel Pit out on FB). I could feel my renewing faith in mankind starting to come back to life.
Fourth Stop, Lake Erie. Fairport Harbor has a wonderful lakefront presence (it is actually part of the Lake Metropark system) with a gorgeous beach, a great boardwalk for walking and the sound that you only experience near water, a sound that brings calm and peace. Had the Northeast Ohio temperature been even slightly warmer we may have stayed a little longer, but I was unprepared for the very cool breeze off the lake.
As the sun set and we proceeded to start back home, we talked about all the things we had seen in just a short period of time, really only a few hours. Our excitement grew at the thought of what lay ahead on my trip. I realized that I could not make this trip alone but that I would have to rely on the energy and compassion of all the strangers I will meet along the way. They will be the ones who help me to heal and help me to grow. I just hope I can give them something back in return,
A friend, asking about this trip, said he thought that all the things I am looking for are already inside of me and asked why I needed to make the trip. He was accurate in his observations but I explained that I have spent so much time wrapped up in myself, my worries, my things that my view has become very small. I needed to view the world from some other place besides the one I sit everyday, I needed to experience something (yet to be defined) other than just my minute worldview. I do not know that I made the point articulately, but he seemed to understand a little better. My hope is to expand myself beyond me and drink in a world of things I have only read about.