“There she goes. There she goes again. Racing through my brain. And I just can’t contain. This feeling that remains.”–as performed by Sixpence None the Richer
What is it about a child? No matter how old they are, the imprint of their tender ages remains with you, especially when you see them struggle. You want to help, but you know that in order for them to transition, you must allow them to struggle and figure things out. Sometimes, no advice is the best advice you can give your child as they journey along their own unique life path.
Therefore, watching my own daughter, Madelyn, figure out her own way in the world has been a mix of bittersweetness. Like many parents, I have observed her growing pains and celebrated her milestones. I’ve cheered her on through uncertain times, and I have stood back when she needed her space to figure things out her own way. Most of all, I have just loved her no matter what.
Of course, she also has her dad (John, my husband), grandparents, aunts/uncles, family, and friends who each offer their own unique form of perspective and support. In fact, I am grateful for the influence and love bestowed upon her throughout her life from others. Their rich perspective and knowledge offer Maddie a quilted tapestry of life in which she can wrap up and take comfort at any time of need.
Therefore, as we recently helped Maddie move for graduate school to Athens, Ohio, a town where she did not know anyone, my mind raced to how fortunate she was, and still is, to have so much love and support, albeit at a slight distance, from that network of friends and family during this time of transition. While Athens is new territory for Maddie, it is familiar to John and me as it is home to our alma mater, Ohio University. With over 21,000 students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs on-campus (with a total over 28,000 when you factor in regional campuses), OU is by far, the largest university Maddie has attended since starting her college education.
By contrast, the program in which she is enrolled is extremely small. In fact, within her immediate field of study, art education, there are only three other students, two of which are married and with kids. Not ideal circumstances for connecting and making friends.
Nonetheless, given the nature of Maddie’s program, a blend of working with two currently practicing Athens art teachers in their classrooms, a graduate assistantship, in-person classes, and virtual classes with a broader scope of students, Maddie will have much in the way of work to occupy her time.
Athens, and the Ohio University campus, remains the ever charming setting I remember from all those years ago. Situated alongside the Hocking River, amidst the iconic rolling hills, Ohio University is the oldest university in Ohio. From its historic Cutler Hall, the oldest building on campus, to its quintessential alumni gateway, and from the sprawling campus, filled with classically designed traditional, older-looking buildings, to its state of the art facilities contained within, Ohio University is certainly a source of inspiration. Plus, it offers students a wide array of activities–no matter their interests.
I couldn’t help but notice that the same energy I felt as an undergraduate all those years ago during the 1980s, still imbues the streets today. Although the names of the businesses may have changed from back “in-the-day,” uptown remains vibrant and more lively than ever. In fact, Maddie recently marveled at how busy those sidewalks and businesses can quickly become as the students embark uptown before, during, and after classes. That said, like the other students, there is no denying, she too finds herself frequently drawn to that uptown vibe when her time permits.
On the weekend in which we first helped Maddie move into her apartment, John and I decided we needed to check out a few local spots for future dining and recreational adventures. To begin, we found a fantastic location in which to stay, just outside of Athens proper, and approximately 10-15 minutes from Maddie’s apartment. It’s called The Barn at Shamrock Farm, and it can be found on Airbnb and Facebook. We were fortunate enough to stay during a discounted weekend, which made it a much more budget friendly option, right along the price point of local hotels.
Unlike the hotels, however, The Barn offers so much more in the way of amenities and space. Host Kerry, and her husband, Michael, were incredibly responsive to their guests, and their property is located amidst the idyllic scenery of a working farm. From the stunning and comfortably appointed house/barn to the ample out-of-doors seating area and additional fire pit, and from the meandering trails over which stretch your legs for hike to all the special touches found throughout the entire home and property, this Airbnb rental is perfect for those looking to visit Ohio University or those desiring a weekend getaway!
While there, John and I discovered, along with Maddie, several dining options that we found both enjoyable and tasty. With regards to casual dining for breakfast, lunch, and/or coffee/snacks, we visited Fluff Bakery and Bagel Street Deli. Both of these diners offered personal, attentive service, freshly made food at a pocket friendly price level, perfect for the budget-minded student and parent alike. Both unique establishments offered a blend of made-to-order items, along with freshly baked goods, and crisp, colorful bowls of salad and fruit. If you’re a bagel fan or fond of baked goods like us, then both of these spots are for you!
Additionally, we tried a couple of local restaurants for evening meals. The evening of the actual big move, we were sweaty, tired, and very hungry. After communication with Kerry, back at The Barn, she and Micheal recommended the casual atmosphere of Gran Ranchero. This allowed us to get away from the busyness of uptown, relax, unwind, and enjoy some comforting, traditional Mexican food. This establishment did not disappoint! Not only was the staff attentive and efficient, the beverages were cold, the food was exceptionally fresh and tasty, and we all left with full stomachs!
The following night, we were just as worn out and hungry, so we went with another local favorite, Pizza Cottage. With a menu brimming with not only a wide variety of pizzas, but also wings, salads, pasta, calzones, subs, desserts, and so much more, Pizza Cottage filled the bill with our desire for comfort food after another long day of work. The atmosphere was casual and light, the service was friendly and quick to offer help/suggestions, and the food was the perfect blend of spice, sweet, salt, and tanginess that one would expect from a casual Italian eatery.
In the end, there remains that familiar parental pang now that Maddie is once more away on a new life adventure. Still, it is worth remembering the old adage, “Give them roots, and give them wings.”
Therefore, my prayer for all of the dear daughters and sons heading off in a new life direction. . . May Divine Providence keep them all safe; may they learn, grow, and thrive in their new environment. May they be girded in the knowledge that even on their most challenging day, they are supported, loved, and encouraged by a community of loved ones back home. And, may they always return home safely.
Godspeed to all young adults entering, or returning to, a new phase along life’s journey. May you soar . . .