According to Glenn – There’s No Place Like Home
Nothing makes me appreciate where I live more than traveling, and I love traveling. No matter where I go, I’ve yet to find another place that I could seriously consider as my home.
Oh, Bermuda beckons, but I couldn’t afford to live there, even part time (not in the foreseeable future anyway). Part of the attraction of that paradise in the Atlantic is that it’s less than 90 minutes by air from Boston. Proximity to New England and the MV factors heavily into my fantasy.
In September, I went south with my daughter, Marissa, who is working at a veterans hospital in the St. Petersburg, Fla. area for three months as part of her graduate program in occupational therapy. Since she needed her car, driving there was a necessity. We decided to take our time and stop at a few places along the way. This was partly to enjoy a father/daughter road trip, and partly because 1,500 miles is a long way, and I’ve lost my ability to drive more than 12 hours at a time.
Our first stop was an unremarkable overnight in Newark, Del. Unless you’re going to the University of Delaware, or doing business with one of the many banks in Wilmington, the only reasons to visit Newark are to sleep, eat and to do the other thing.
The next day was our big driving day, the bulk of the miles we needed to cover, but I couldn’t pass the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport without stopping. I’d been there a bunch of times, but not since the space shuttle Discovery was entombed there (the stupidity of eliminating our nation’s capability for human spaceflight before having a replacement for the shuttle is a subject for another column).
After an hour or so at the museum, we hit the road again, our destination that day being Charleston, S.C., a charming city, I’d been told. We spent two nights and one full day there, and I was blown away by the incredible culinary scene and the charm of the historic district. When I mentioned this later to several people, it became apparent that I was possibly the last to know (although I’m hoping this is news to some of you).
When Charleston recovers from the flooding brought on by Hurricane Joaquin, I’d suggest a visit to FIG so you can experience for yourself how much New England native Mike Lata, chef, co-owner and 2009 James Beard Award-winner, kicks ass. Unfortunately, with just one day in the city, we only had time to check out one other eatery, an authentic Lebanese restaurant called Layla. Folks, if there’s a Leb joint in Dixie, there must be a great culinary scene. The food was excellent, although nothing will ever beat the cooking of my mother-in-law, Souad.
Charleston is a city I could contemplate living in, but it’s a bit far – from everything.
Our next travel day would take us to our destination, the Tampa/St. Pete region. Tampa is a city in transition. Maybe one day it will offer everything a city should, but right now it’s mostly a conglomeration of strip malls, with a few tall buildings thrown in. On the other hand, St. Petersburg, and St. Pete Beach (a separate city) are attractive. Warm weather, decent food, nice beaches (and beach bars), and close to a city with an NHL team (Tampa) have put the area on my list of places to explore further.
The reality, however, is that I could never live in Florida full time. Partly because the humidity would be intolerable whenever I wasn’t in a bathing suit, partly because I couldn’t stand to be permanently away from the authenticity I feel the Northeast offers, but mostly because of the distance from friends and family. And that, ultimately, is what being home means to me.
So wherever you may reside, I hope you’ll be home for the holidays this year, as I hope I will be, too.
Glenn J. Prezzano is the president of 512 Media Inc., founder and publisher of Merrimack Valley Magazine, Merrimack Valley Home and book publisher Merrimack Press. You may talk back to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.