The maternal wing of my family arrived in Bowling Green, Ohio five days prior. We’d had hot wings at Fricker’s, a few quick lunches at Frisch’s Big Boy, a quasi-classy meal at Easy Street Café, and a couple of pizzas from DiBenedetto’s Pizzeria. We visited Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio that Wednesday to ride rollercoasters and hang out. My aunt Christine threatened to kick my ass as we flew through the first inversion on Raptor. My coaster-addicted heart did not perceive this inverted coaster to be too much, but her sensibilities disagreed.
It was a bit surreal, this collision of my worlds. Save for a visit from my baby sister four years prior, my time in Bowling Green, Ohio was devoid of the familiar presences of my immediate and extended family. As I pulled into the parking lot at the Days Inn on East Wooster Street on a typically hot and sticky afternoon on August 7th, 1999, these familiar faces greeted me in my familiar space. Mom, Nana, Auntie Chris, Courtney, Ashley, and Kristofer were members of my maternal line. A second big bang would visit me two days later when Dad, Grandma, Auntie Cookie, Uncle Bert, and my cousin John arrived two days later.
I reflected on the quiet night that I waved goodbye to my mother and boarded a Greyhound bus at 2:14 AM on a quiet, August night in 1994. That hellish, three-day excursion on The [Grey]Hound is its own volume in my life story that I will not dive into right now; however, I will just say that a particularly onerous experience was my forearm tussle with a hirsute, 300-plus pound man for the armrest during a brutal ride to Yuma, Arizona in 108-degree weather with inadequate air conditioning. Like I said, a hellish excursion.
I’d left my family in Southern California to add a few more letters after my last name and to become Dr. Lyde. Until my family arrived in Bowling Green, OH on August 7th, 1999, it had not occurred to me that I would see their faces in this other world I’d called home for nearly five years. Yet, when I pulled up to the Days Inn on East Wooster Street I encountered all of these familiar faces in my very familiar place.
The weather was particularly nice for a mid-August morning in Northwest Ohio. Temperatures in the low-80s was an agreeable marriage with my black doctoral robe, dark blue hood, black velvet tam, and orange tassel. This meeting of my mothers had the potential to get a bit fiery. My mother had not forgotten my tearful call to her following my traumatic dissertation defense meeting. She had not forgotten that my doctoral advisor—my academic mom for the past five years—arrived at my defense meeting smelling of alcohol with a slight slur in her speech.