I got in late last night, nearly midnight I believe it was... I had gone down to play some songs with my good buddy Mitch Ellis who was playing at a Pub in Fairfield Ohio, it felt good to fiddle with a full band for a change, and play the old Bob Wills tune Faded Love once again with a rhythm section!
Mitch plays a 12 string guitar which takes me all the way back to playing music with my Dad growing up in the greater Cincinnati area as a teenager, so it was a good time all the way around, but the second thing I got excited about was taking a quick exit from the pub and making my way to Jungle Jim's International Market...
How do you describe such a place? I guess you could call it a grocery store that sells food from all over the planet, but it's a store the size of a couple of super Wal Mart stores shoved together! I didn't have a lot of time before closing so I wasn't able to aimlessly wander around and shop like I'd normally do... But I went to England for a quick stroll through the tea aisle to pick up some loose leaf tea, followed by a trip to Sweden for some candy, and I managed to get some dried Hibiscus flowers from India before I swept through the spice aisle for special blends I can only find there...Back to America for a couple of Cincinnati local flavors, before heading out...
My family has shopped at Jungle Jim's since, about as long as I can recall, and it was nice to go back and feel a sense of my origins once again. I didn't think too much about being from Cincinnati growing up, and even when I moved to Indianapolis in 2005 it didn't phase me much. I think it was maybe because "Home" was only a two-hour car ride away.
But my hometown became much more sentimental when I lived in Florida, and I recall sometime around 2015 I found myself eating Skyline Chili at a franchise in Naples Florida... In general, I only ate Skyline a couple of times in my whole life around Cincinnati, it wasn't really a flavor that I had much use for... But somehow being 1200 miles from my home and family, that familiar taste and smell took me back to Ohio and the river once again, and for all my struggles in Florida at least I could spend $2.89 and eat a Coney and for that brief few bites I was home.
Old cliches about "Home is where you hang your hat" or "Home is where the heart is" always come to mind at different times but I don't always think of "Home" as a location nearly as much as I feel like home is a culture and a grounding. It's where I was rooted, where I was brought up with a screwdriver in one hand and a musical instrument in the other!
Home is the sound of steamboats and barges passing each other while the Ohio River flows under the taught cables of the suspension bridge, it's the winding back roads of Rural Route 1 and the snowy slopes of the Ski resort on one side of the road and Juniper trees with Cardinal nests in them on the other, the smell of fresh-cut hay and diesel tractors running late into the night working the land. Home is many things, it's where the guitars are, it's where the meals are prepared with care and attention to detail, but it's also the faces of people I've grown to love, and a way of life I've learned to appreciate. Cincinnati will always be a place near and dear to my heart though I only make it there a few times a year if I'm lucky. If anybody has a line on some shows out that way, let me know I'd love to play more gigs closer to "Home"