Just got back from a family night out bowling with the boys. The bowling was fun, and less than eventful with the exception that nobody ended up crying or injured – always a plus in my book. After the “fun” of the early evening we realized that dinner was next on the agenda, and I had no intention of going home to whip up a homemade meal (don’t ask me why, maybe it’s that “spring break” feeling that is in the air that makes me think that I am also on vacation….)
My husband turns to me and asks “what are we doing about dinner??” My first instinct was “Fish Fry!!” It is Friday during Lenten season, and I haven’t been to a real fish fry since I was a child, to be honest. Back then, my family and I would get ourselves cleaned up to go to the VFW for a big night out to feast on all-you-can-eat perch while sitting at banquet tables surrounded by our friend and neighbors. The highlight for me was the “kiddy cocktail” that my father would treat me to while he sipped his Budweiser beer in the area designated for the bar in the hall. Then we (my brother and I) would run around looking for playmates and school friends to hang with while we wolfed down a few pieces of fish and some french fries. For some reason this all came back to me this week and I felt the need to recreate that atmosphere in some respect. We’re back in the Chicago area, so why not??
I directed Ray (my husband) to the bar that I had noticed earlier in the week and he made the suggestion that we should check it out first before bringing our children into a bar for food – just in case it wasn’t “family friendly” (funny to think that we have to consider this now, when we were kids you just went into the bar with your parents and entertained yourself quietly while eating peanuts). Low and behold, the sign on the door read: “Welcome family and friends” That was all we needed! Hop out boys, we have arrived.
Trying to describe the feeling of being there is almost fruitless. If you could have seen the stupid grins my husband and I had on our faces, and our attempt to describe our childhood memories of this same experience to our children, you would understand it perfectly. We were home. It’s been over 10 years since we’ve felt at home anywhere (besides in our own family’s houses), but we are slowly finding our way now. New town, new surroundings, but soon to be “our town” and “our place” just like it was before we ever boarded that plane for Germany so long ago.
It happens slowly, I know, but to know that it WILL happen is so much more rewarding than the distant memories of our past. We are making new memories with our own family and so happy to see the parallel to our own lives – it’s not just iPods, and laptops and cellphones for this generation like we would like to believe. It’s building new traditions and memories, sharing our past with the present and making our family ties that much stronger. The best thing said all night was “when can we come back?” with the others nodding their heads in agreement while their smiles lit up the room.
Yes, this all from eating at a fish fry….must have been some great perch, don’t you think?