I never fully understood that phrase. Of course you can, you hop in the car and drive- boof you're there, right? The problem is home is not what home was.
I went over to Windham yesterday. I graduated from Windham-Ashland-Jewett High School in 1983. I have been back, long enough for a friends funeral in 1984, my sister's burial in the early 90's and my mom's early this decade. And I have driven through on countless occasions, but I never really looked. I wanted to spend some time yesterday after going to the graves. It was like an alternate reality. A great deal of it looked the same but it was very different. The school was still where the school always was, but huge now. And Higgins house it still next to it, looking as old as the day left me feeling. The Windham Journal was gone, the Fire House was different. I am not sure Debbie Stead's house was there. Her dad taught 5th or 6th grade when I was in High School. I never had him; I was still in Brooklyn during those academic years. Of course the flood last year did all sorts of untold damage and I'm sure changed things from what they between my years there and yesterday.
Zerga's Pizzeria is not in the Mini Mall anymore, in fact neither is the Mini Mall. Zerga's is now in a building whose origin I cannot remember; but Steve is still there! His parents owned it and he worked in it when it opened. The Mini Mall from what I could see (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) was a Brew House restaurant. There is a Day Spa now, apparently they are also closed on Wednesday as well. The Windham Pharmacy is no longer in its original location, now it's a gift emporium. My friend Sherri's house is now a Fabric Store...that blew me away. Oh, and the creepy little deli/whatever store that my parents did want me in because of rumors of nefarious activity is now another Pizza Place. Windham has a lot of those now. There was a little eatery next to the pharmacy but that is now a Greek Diner serving breakfast all day.
But, best of the best, and the reason I brought along my insulated cold sack and freezer pack.....Todaro's Salumeria was still on the corner! I bought some Mozzerella that they make on premises, Hot Italian Sausage, that they make on premises and there Italian bread with sesame seeds. Oh, the bread, the memories with the bread. Mom always had a loaf on the nights we had Spaghetti and Sauce. So, I know, not a Monday-Saturday food normally, but really, I was not going to eat the best bread ever???????????? I got home, took out my new pan that my wonderful husband purchased for me last weekend, browned those sausages, threw some sliced onions in to pull up all flavor from the bottom of the pan, added peppers, and some smashed cloves of garlic. Add waited...and waited...and added white wine...and waited...and waited. Then finally, done!
I pulled out the sausage, let it rest a minute-barely- sliced it, ladled it into bowls with the onions, peppers, and broth and then...drum roll please...cut the bread. The beautiful snap and crunch as the bread knife sliced through it and the sesame seeds dancing and popping off the top, the flesh of the bread a light yellow. It be must semolina flour I think to get that color and maybe eggs...not sure, just know that it is the closest thing to Brooklyn Italian Bread that I have ever had outside of Brooklyn. I still weighed and measured everything, and I paid dearly in points, but still came in under because my lunch idea had fallen through. Apparently, Messina's is not open for lunch, at least not this time of the year. So I ate the fruit that I never seem to leave home without these days.
It was a bittersweet day.