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Going back home for family, friends, food

Been back in Florida for two days now and still feeling the sluggish aftereffects of four fun-filled days spent with close-knit kin and a few of those who might as well be.

Home-lag: a familiar phenomenon for those who have long since moved from whence they came. The journey back to where you were born is a whirlwind for us, one that always seems to leave us feeling exhausted, a little homesick and a few sorry pounds heavier.

Not our fault.

Really, who can resist the longing that sets in right around the time you book that flight for a taste of that Italian sub, those thin-sliced onion rings, New England clam chowder and maybe some pizza, too? Nobody, after all, does those things quite as good as they do back home.

Time is short, so you call ahead to let folks know you'll be in town and pretty soon your itinerary is filled with meal dates: breakfast here, dinner there, a cookout somewhere else with all those people who want to catch up over scrambled eggs and home fries or burgers and grilled salmon.

Mmmm.

No skipping dessert, either, especially when they're offering up to-die-for cannolis, tiramisu and strawberry-filled wedding cake topped with buttercream icing.

Yes, this latest jaunt entailed a "main event" — a festive wedding celebrated in a lovely waterfront venue that offered an awesome view of the Boston skyline. The match came complete with a groom with a grin as wide as I've ever seen and a beautiful bride who not too long ago, it seems, was a sprightly toddler donning ballerina blue and twirling to Bruce Springsteen's Rosalita in the flowery, wallpapered living room of my late 20s.

All grown up now, both of us.

During this latest visit my two sisters and I had a chance to get together for the first time in five years to laugh over old stories that my husband swears he's heard at least a 100 times. I also enjoyed an overpriced breakfast ($15 for eggs and bacon!!!?? Come on!!) and made promises to get together on our own turfs with an old friend I haven't laid eyes on since I moved to Florida and she moved to Texas some 20 years ago. Having planned our whirlwinds at the same time was an unexpected bonus for us, even as we bid our good-byes in the hotel parking lot.

Introductions were made over barbecued ribs and beer pong to two brand-new Miller grand-nieces: one with a rather extensive collection of hair bows and another that roars in a very cute way upon prompting.

Ah, the stuff we've been missing.

As always, it was too short a stay, one that offered a brief glimpse of how dear ones are evolving into their new roles as high school and college students, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, husbands and wives and grandparents, too.

Life, we are reminded, covers a circular trek; one that widens with the years, bringing in sweet new souls with some familiar traits that somehow help to offset the sorrow we feel for those who are no longer with us.

Once again we line everyone up for the group snapshot in front of the brick church, the New England fireplace, the overpriced hotel dining room and the tall backyard zinnias.

"Everyone say 'cheese' and smile for the camera!"

"And someone please take that baby's bow off of Uncle Joey's silly head."

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Life goes on.

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@sptimes.com or at (727) 869-6251.

Going back home for family, friends, food 08/18/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 7:47pm]

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