This time around was a little different for me. I started to make a list of things in my head, around me, that meant "home". Some may be relate-able to you, while others are just personal to me, but I figured I would write them down...hoping wherever my 717 friends are, you too, might feel a piece of home...
1. The first thing I ALWAYS notice first, as I drive into Lancaster, is the smell. I'm sure you all know where I'm going with this. No matter if it's the dead of summer or winter, even with a foot of snow on the ground, I swear you can still smell the manure. When you grow up there, you expect it. You don't even notice it half the time...that's not the case for me anymore!
2. While I'm on smells, two more stick out (in a good way). Kellogg's in Landisville and Y&S Candy. One of my dads patients works there, and I always hope they have a fresh bag of licorice in the pantry when I come home.
3. 96.9 FM 97 Always have listened to it and always will. Enough said.
4. Park City. It wouldn't be home without a trip to the mall! Wow, has that place changed! Its SO much nicer these day and has so many new stores. Unfortunately for me, I don't know my way around like I used to. Express will ALWAYS be down the Bon-Ton wing and I'm still surprised to see the white tiled floors. Remember that dark, ugly brown floor?!
5. Turkey Hill. Sorry Wawa, Turkey Hill ice tea and ice-cream can't be beat...now if we're talking hoagies, that's a different story.
6. WGAL. It wouldn't be right if I didn't check in on Kim Lemon.
7. Carlos and Charlies (sometimes replaced with El Serrano). Some things on this list are more personal to MY visits home and this may be one. C&C became a staple for wing night while at Millersville. Now its a staple to get us all together, kid free for drinks.
8. If its not drinks at C&C, its drinks at the Stavig's, home #2 in Lancaster. We sit at the island, in the kitchen of Julie's parents house and drink Chardonnay (or shots of Wild Turkey...Christmas Eve 2010). We could do it for hours. We could probably do it all night, which is usually why we are running late for a night out in the big, crazy city of Lancaster (yes, that was sarcastic.)
9. Brickyard, Marion Court, Belvedere...do I really need to visit these places? I can expect to run into at least 10 people from my graduating class (and by that I mean high school AND college), an ex boyfriend (or 2), and a ton of people I REALLY don't want to talk to. (Probably why we sit at the island and drink before we even consider going out) Yet we always have a lot of fun and have A LOT of stories the next morning!
10. Val's House. The token "meet up place" I'm there for play-dates with the kids, hangouts with the girls and pig roasts with all of Hempfield High School.
11. Manhattan Bagel...errr Grand Central Station? It was my first job when I turned 16 and who doesn't love a good bagel...unfortunately now I have to pay for them.
12. Oyster Point Family Health Center. My dad helped build one of the most successful family practice offices in Lancaster. I use to get annoyed when all the guys I went to school with reminded me that my dad had given them their physical. I would always say, "Don't worry, he wasn't impressed;)" Now, I drive by it and only feel a sense of pride in my dad's accomplishments.
13. Diners. Whether its the Apple Tree, Lyndon Diner, Salunga Family Restaurant (no, sorry out-of-towners, us natives do not frequent Shady Maple Smorgasbord) for some reason, the diners in Lancaster are better than anywhere else and my parents are regulars.
14. The Amish. Most people only think of the Amish when they think of Lancaster. Honestly, on a normal trip home I don't really see them...unless of course I head into Lancaster Central Market....
15. Lancaster Central Market. It's the country's oldest farmers market and if I'm not mistaking it was recently ranked as one of the best farmers markets in the world. I don't get there as much as I should, but if I do, two things happen, I see the Amish and I eat a whoopie pie.
16. Hot Z Pizza. I don't even want to think about how many times I ate their cheese fries. Funny thing is, the food isn't as good as I remember.
17. Hempfield High School. It's impossible to drive down Kauffman Road and miss this monstrosity. I recently went there to run around the track. Talk about memories.
18. Beau's Dream Dog Park. This is a new one but a "must add" to the list. I mean come on, one of my best friends literally 'dreamt' up the idea.
19. The Parent's Hot Tub. When I was younger, my friends and I would all pile in when it was snowing and take turns running around the house, jumping in and out of the hot tub. Now all I want to do is drink a glass of wine, under the stars and relax. Life has certainly changed.
20. Spinach Dip. My mom gets this amazing spinach dip at Costco. I eat it every single time I'm home.
21. The Barnstormers. I haven't been to a game in years. I believe I was in college when the ballpark opened. I definitely want to take my boys there when they get a little older.
22. My Bedroom. My mom hasn't touched it since I left. I recently cleaned a lot of junk out for her. I found all my prom dresses, cheerleading gear, gymnastics leotards, track awards...and the list goes on. Talk about a walk down memory lane. I love that every time I am home, it feels like I never left.
23. Millersville University. I love that Mike and I can walk around our college campus when we visit my parents. Burrows Hall will always hold a special place in my heart...the place I met my husband.
24. Prestige Gymnastics. I spent 7 years there. I am amazed at how good the girls are now and they seem younger and younger everytime...or maybe it's just that I'm older. I NEED to go back and visit. The boys would love it. I'm assuming the dog food plant is still next door!?
25. Centerville Road. It's the main artery I travel to pretty much get to any of the places listed above. I still can't get over how much Lancaster has grown. The traffic on Centerville Road is enough proof for me.
As I look over my list, it's impossible to forget the wonderful childhood I had in Lancaster. It also makes me wonder what memories I am making for my boys. They will most likely grow up in Delaware County, the same place as my husband. Will Sciarrino's Pizza remind them of home? Will they go to Barnaby's when they turn 21? Will they refer to home as Delco? Will they despise the traffic on West Chester Pike and Township Line Road as much as I do, or will it just be second nature? Will they look forward to Eagles Games at the Linc with their dad, and laugh at him when "da Bears" lose? I hope I am building these feelings of "home" for my kids, because as much as "Lancaster" did for me, it was my parents that did a pretty kick-ass job.