The End of Leg One

I couldn’t wait til my head hit the pillow tonight. The last few days have been rough. I will reluctantly admit that, after days of denying that I could possibly get sick on the day I leave for the second leg of my journey, I am sick. 
Mini me came home with it last week then passed it onto Mom. I was a sitting duck. I loaded up on Vitamin C in anticipation, but the late night I had Sat. night visiting with my cousin and sampling the drinks at his new bar downtown, Passage, proved to be just what the bug needed to take over my immune system. I woke up Sunday morning a little bit punchy and a lot sick.
This past week has been unexpectedly, emotionally exhausting. Since I was 18, I have come home every year at Christmas for a few days. I stay nestled in the comfort of my parent’s home and don’t really venture out into the city much. This week was very different. I had the freedom of my own car and the urgency of getting things done. 
It has been 12 years since my Dad passed and this week his memory was stronger than any of my previous visits. He was in every turn of every road. In the storage facility I rented for my things, in the boats on the river enjoying the Labor Day fireworks, in the tiny town of Newport, KY where his favorite treat stop, Anne’s Ice Ball, still stands.
 It was in the many unsolicited mentions of his name from family members as if it was just yesterday he left us. In the now overgrown pine tree that still grows in the backyard of our old family house that I watched him plant when I was 10 and in the refreshing feel of the nighttime air as I would replicate a drive taken many times with him to get a summer nights ice cream. 
He was everywhere in Cincinnati this week. His memory hasn’t faded one bit. I can still hear his voice, his laugh and the lisp of his tongue as if only yesterday we enjoyed a new family memory. If anything, this week, his memory was stronger than ever. 
The Labor Day fireworks were Sunday night. In Cincinnati, the fireworks on Labor Day weekend is comparable to a national holiday. It is the time when the banks of the Ohio river, both the Kentucky side and the Ohio side, come together in one concentrated effort of showmanship and revel in a 30 minute production and show of lights while over 1 million people are tuned into the same radio station synchronizing the soundtrack to those lights.
It was a favorite time for my parents to gather with friends, hop on our boat and enjoy the view from the best seat in the house, the Ohio River. I haven’t been in Cincinnati for the fireworks since the year my Dad died. It worked out as a perfect send off before I finish the drive cross-country and head to NY. 
Monday morning was here and I was still in denial of the illness looming. I doubled the vitamin C doses and refused to believe that this bug could grow to full-blown the day I am to leave. I had a late start. My feet were dragging as if the flu bug had placed its own two heavy hands on the back of my neck and started forcing me down. Pressuring me to stop, drop everything and go back to bed. I had to ignore its grasp and continue on. Drive, drive, drive. Just get me to the next stop. 
There was no way I would make it to NY at a decent time, so I compromised on stopping in Philly. I haven’t been to Philly since I was a kid. A perfect detour and an added attraction to the list of venues.
The next day, I spent a few hours walking the city and taking in a few sightseeing spots. 
I continued on my drive only after stopping for a Philly steak and cheese sandwich at Sonny’s Famous Steaks. 
The drive to NY was brief. I arrived with just enough time to doll myself up and meet a new friend in Manhattan for dinner and a glass of wine. It was unfortunate that my taste buds had numbed from the pressure in my head. I’m sure it was an excellent meal.
I was aching, coughing, sniffling and run down. My head finally hit the pillow at 11:00. At last! Tomorrow, I will be on a plane to Paris. I will bring with me on that flight, my cold, my Eurorail pass and one bag filled with enough to last the next month. I will leave behind my car lease, a half eaten steak and cheese sandwich and the most treasured of all, the small reminders of my Dad Cincinnati had thoughtfully laid about its city. Safe for the keeping and always available for me to revisit again when I pass through town.
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