I hadn’t seen Erika for over seventeen years. It’s been that long since I left Cleveland… since I “left home.”
I had been planning a trip back to Cleveland… to home… for several years. You know how it is. Something always comes up… and somehow, something always does.
Not that it should… but I guess that if the timing would have been right… I would have gone home sooner.
It was a Sunday afternoon when we agreed to meet. Around two o’clock at some silly-named restaurant/sports bar that had the word “Lizard” in its name.
Anyway… I was driving… on my way to meet Erika… when my cell phone rang. It was ten minutes before two… and I was almost there.
It was Erika. She was there already. She sounded excited. Just the sound and the feel of her voice as it rested on my ears was more than music to me. It felt… like “home.”
Up until 1993… I had always been the one everyone depended on. The one they often came to when the dark clouds came. They looked up to me. Then… in 1993… I left Cleveland. I needed to. Medical reasons… job reasons… and things having to do with my marriage. Nothing anyone ever does… is done with a one hundred percent sureness. Nothing is ever one hundred percent black… or white. In this case… that was true, as well.
I had not seen Erika in person for years… but we’ve chatted more than a few times, and exchanged emails more times than that. During one of those chats… I shared with Erika how the rest of my family had more than a bit of trouble with me… both my leaving Cleveland, and with the “eclectic” way my personality expressed itself.
I was really curious why none of that which “made me different” bothered Erika… so, one time while we were chatting… I asked her. She paused… and then said… “Aunt Karen… my Dad raised me right. I love you just the way you are.”
Bless her heart !