My Return to Gainesville
My return to Gainesville was a long time coming, but I hardly expected it to be in 2016, or for the reason it ended up being. My mother, Robin, passed away in a traffic accident on July 28. I had to come home to help my brother and sister pick up the pieces, both literally and figuratively, of our mom’s life.
My brother was driving down from Pennsylvania with his girlfriend, so he stopped by my place to pick me up for the 12-hour car ride down to northern Florida.
The three of us hadn’t seen each other since Jenny’s wedding in 2013. As you might expect, the loving insults flew fast and furious, along with the hugs and the loud snoring. In between, we took care of some of the work needed to be done with our mom’s estate. I was in charge of cleaning and organizing her bedroom, which made her look like a border-line hoarder, with old bills and strange pamphlets and other knick knacks littering the place. Sean and Jenny spent most of the time meeting people and tracking down information. Sean will be the executor and we decided he would inherit whatever may be left of the estate.
But not all was doom and gloom. I tried to make the most of my week in the Gator Nation, and ended up doing or seeing quite a bit.
Sean recommended we try a Hibachi grill place he liked. I remember going to one in the Little Japan of Disney World when I was younger, but this was just as good. They obviously do more entertaining bits for the kids and not the adults, playing with fire and creating onion mountains, etc., but the food was plentiful and quite good. Shrimp over fried rice is always a good choice.
We followed that up with an-all-too-nerdy hipster place called 2nd & Charles. They sell used books, DVDs, comic books, and plenty of new things for the hipster set. Of course, I had to get a hard copy of the new Harry Potter book (which is really a script for the new sequel/play). My overall impression of the place is that it fits the college-town atmosphere of Gainesville perfectly.
Other than enjoying the animation of an ancient computer game, I was never much of a chess player. My sister and especially my brother are better at it. That did not stop us from playing two rounds of 3-person chess. By sheer dumb luck, and some crazy diagonals, I managed to get 2nd place in both rounds as Jenny and Sean surprised each other with some of the unique moves available on the circular board.
None of us are big users of Skype, but the video chat capability proved too tempting, so we Skyped with our Dad twice that week, and will try a three-way-call on my birthday. Not quite as good as a visit, but pretty darn close. And cheaper and more convenient than a plane ride.
Food-wise, we kept things mostly cheap. Leftover Hibachi, some home-cooked pot roast, stuff like that. However, during one trip into town, we stopped at a fast food joint called Blaze Pizza. You can build your own pizza (with your choice of sauces, cheeses, and toppings) and it gets cooked in less than 5 minutes. The dough is a little soft, like New York style, but the college-friendly restaurant made a very nice lunch. (I had pepperoni, zucchini, mushrooms, and some other toppings.)
And I put on my bucket list for my final day in town to visit a Checker’s. There are none close to where I live in DC, so I had to make sure I stopped by one while I had the chance. It did not disappoint. The burger and milkshake were quite good, but the fries are absolutely the best seasoned fries I’ve ever had. It’s a little sad that I’m now back in an area without any Checkers near by. And to top off the week, we decided to get something we thought our Mom might have wanted, a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.
Before we had DQ, though, I dragged my siblings over to UF campus so I could visit my alma mater. Little did I know that we were visited on Summer Graduation Day and that much of the renovated Reitz Union was shut down on Summer Saturdays. So I didn’t get to show off the new SG offices and find my name on the historical list of Outstanding Senators of the Term. Oh well. Still got to see good old Lake Alice, Beaty Towers, and other old stomping grounds.
And then I had to pack up and fly back to DC. Bummer.