This quarter, I have a much shorter commute, though sometimes more frustrating. I don't have to get on the highway. I begin by driving out Bryden Road, past all the lovely old houses (some in good repair, others much less so). I jog up Nelson and then turn right on East Broad, where I stay for the next 10 miles or so: past the ornate houses in Bexley at first, then through a wilderness of strip malls in Whitehall, past the outerbelt, more strip malls, and then I arrive at the college, housed in a building that looks to me like an old bank, but used to be an event center (the ballroom still has a removable dance floor).
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I spend a lot of time on my way to campus sitting at traffic lights. On my way home, I catch the majority of them green.
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I sometimes think as I'm driving that this stretch of road is what gives Ohio a bad name -- the strip malls, the presence of almost every type of fast food imaginable. There are the typical ones: Taco Bells, McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King. There are two Tim Horton's, an Arby's, a KFC, a White Castle, a Skyline Chili. There are the faux ethnic options: two Mark Pi's, one Panda Express, a Chipotle (which I do love, in all honesty). There is pizza of multiple varieties, Subway, Penn Station, as well as two Bob Evans, an Applebees, a Tumbleweed, and two different chicken wing joints. It's disgusting sometimes to think about just how much bad food is available on that journey.
Because I'm teaching evening classes, I'm generally hungry when I leave campus at night, but I've made it my goal NOT to stop for food on the way home. Instead, last night I came back, boiled some udon noodles and tossed them with kimchi, thawed frozen spinach, soy sauce, a smidge of sugar, and sesame oil. It was delicious! Tonight I opened a can of vegetarian baked beans and heated up some leftover mashed potatos. Can't win them all, I guess.
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The first couple of times I drove back, I almost missed the turn onto Nelson Road. This week, I realized that as soon as I can see the lights of downtown Columbus appear ahead of me, I need to make the next left. It makes perfect sense, and it makes me smile to make that connection, to feel like I'm coming back through the suburbs to where I really live.
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And, finally, today's #smallstone
the lights that seem white
as I drive past them
darken to yellow
leaning in to each other
a bell ringing gold