Nostalgia is a strange sensation. It can be sparked by anything from a place to a song or even a smell. To this day, a whiff of a certain artificial watermelon scent transports me back to age 7(ish), digging through the top drawer of our china cabinet in the kitchen which always seemed to house an antique gold finish tin of watermelon lip balm. It’s bizarre how life can suddenly feel “less” without items that I don’t remember forgetting, let alone missing. It can catch you off-guard.

Having only been away for three years, I didn’t expect these sensations to strike on my first summer visit back to Indiana since my move. And yet, the night I arrived, I was walking to pick up pizza with Amy and I noticed a glow. The lightning bugs were just starting to make their appearance in the dusk. Soon, they were all around and one landed on Amy’s hand. Suddenly, I was a little girl running around the backyard trying to hold these little creatures in my hand to marvel at their glowing bodies. A part of me wanted to cry at how happy I felt having them surround me. It was a wonderful feeling to have back what I hadn’t consciously realized I missed.

The next morning, the cutest thing happened. Amy & Fi came downstairs and Fi was happily going about her energetic morning routine, until I said “hi” from the couch. She froze in her tracks and turned like she’d been caught stealing candy. We cracked up. I spent the rest of the day talking with Amy and helping bake a birthday cake for Adam. It was perfectly chill.

We spent the night at Scott & Steph’s. I barely knew them before I moved away, but somehow from 2,500 miles away, they’ve become two of my favorites! Scott gave a tour of their brewing setup and garden. Somehow I’m friends with highly motivated people but none of that rubs off on me. Anyway, I couldn’t have planned a better way to see all my friends. We had 5 dogs running around the yard and a vintage projection screen was setup outside for our viewing of Back to the Future. Naturally, Scott & Alex planned some elaborate introduction for the whole thing…I wish I could remember who filmed that… With a background of lightning bugs in the surrounding field and snacks in-hand, it was the perfect night. We all started tweeting about the experience in a futile attempt to make it the trending topic on Twitter hehe. Nerds.

I slept on the couch in the basement and was awoken in the middle of the night by footsteps on my body. There was definitely a moment of panic, but soon I heard purring. Apparently a cat had been shut-in with me. She curled up beside me and I fell back asleep. (I wish I could remember the crazy dream I had. I remember sharing it in the morning because it was so absurd. I think my brain had tried to communicate the presence of the cat by casting it as a crazy robot or something.) I was feeling spoiled by all the 4-legged attention. I became best friends with their boxer the following morning while we watched the premiere of Wilfred (loved it, btw). We finally decided we should leave the house, so a trip to Chick-filet was in order before hitting up an antique mall. We didn’t get far before the children lost patience with the whole thing. We were all kind of tired.

A nap was in order before Amy & I headed out for the night. We started with dinner at Saffron Cafe. I had an amazing lamb tajine, with the sweetness of prunes, apricots, pears, & cinnamon. It was so delicious and the atmosphere was so pretty with the stacks of tajines and colored glass fixtures. The sitar player right behind us completed the greatness.

We split the rest of the night between two spots. First, we had a table by the open window at Ball & Biscuit, a vintage meets modern lounge where we each had a cocktail containing St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur. It was new since I moved. We closed the evening at an old favorite, The Rathskellar, where a cover band played on the outdoor stage. We just enjoyed the still-warm weather and talked until we decided we were tired. A hilarious foot story happened in the midst, but I’ve promised not to speak of it.

The next morning I hit the road for home for a Father’s day lunch. Kyle brought over his girlfriend’s 3-pound yorkie poo, Harley, which seemed even tinier in context of the pitbull and bull terrier also running around. I convinced Kyle to let me puppy sit for the afternoon. Harley & I became great friends. I realized if I had a dog her size, my landlord would never be the wiser. Dad took me over to the farm to fetch the 4-wheeler, which I rode around the farm and back over to the house, cutting back to our cabin in the woods. The ride in the woods was a bit treacherous, crossing creeks and climbing eroded hills, but naturally, so much fun.

When I got back to the house, I took Harley to play outside. She looks a bit like a rabbit when she runs with her small frame and big ears. She wore me out. We walked all around the house and had some attempted games of fetch. She never quite mastered the bringing it back part. I couldn’t believe how fast she moved (see video below). It was pretty hilarious. She was such a good dog. Didn’t bark and just followed me around. I was sad when she had to go home, but Kyle did bring over his pitbull, Milo, who immediately clambered up on the chair with me. He was always my favorite, the 70lb lap dog.

I spent most of the next morning looking for things in my old room and (sadly) realizing items were missing. I talked to my dad’s girlfriend for a couple hours before helping prep lunch. She’s nice and it was good to finally have a chance to get to know her. In the afternoon I headed to Carmel to fetch Adam from work. We had dinner along The Monon at Detour. It was a pleasant evening, so we popped across the way to Bub’s for some birthday cake flavored ice cream cones and walked down The Monon. We checked out some real estate and laughed at how people must have assumed we were on a date or possibly newlyweds looking for a home hehe. It would have been a great date! He started a fire on the deck when we got back and we just talked into the night.

I met up with Adam & Rachel for lunch the next day over at Fort Ben. I got a tour of Adam’s workplace, Midwest Studios. I believe it was the old water treatment building. It was such a beautiful space (photo) and cool to see the prototyping machines and workshops. It seemed like such a fun place to work.

I dropped my clarinet off that afternoon to get it restored to playing condition (now, if only I could track down my sheet music). Then I met up with Mitch for a quick drink at Granite City. I had a tasty Hypno Cosmo. He ordered a pitcher of stout…for himself. It made financial sense haha. Always an adventure with that guy. Rachel hosted a dinner party that night, which worked out beautifully. I finally got to see Eric & Liz and baby Emma. We had some good laughs and we wound down the night by watching Secretariat (of course, I’m game for a horse movie!). And somehow, it was already my last night in Indiana.

I stopped for a visit with Patty before lunch, since Tyler was in Ukraine and I needed to see some member of the family! It so happened that I perfectly timed getting lunch with Adam & Andy at Pizza Hut buffet (oh, the memories there). Before I knew it, I was pulling into the airport and my whirlwind perfection of a visit was coming to an end.

The whole trip made me homesick, of course. It was nice being able to hop from place to place without worrying about finding (safe) parking or waiting for a bus. It was amazing just being able to sit outside in the evenings and talk. I had to remind myself that I was on vacation and if I lived there, I would have a job and stress and I wouldn’t be able to see friends everyday. Still, it’s nice to be somewhere you feel at home (and hang out with 9 different dogs!).

The Midwest will always be the best in my heart.