… I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face…

Yeah, good song, and one of the best that the DJ played at the Ohioan wedding we attended on Saturday night. And a true cultural experience it was indeed.

The venue? Stan Hywet Hall, a random Tudor manor house that some rich Ohioan decided to commission back in the early 20th century. Beautiful place, but completely incongruous in the midst of all the fast food joints, drive-in restaurants, and strip malls:

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And, since no self-respecting mock Tudor home is up to snuff without a full mock English garden and grounds, the wedding was held here:

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Needless to say, it was beautiful, but for much of the time I was wholly distracted by the translation of the entire proceedings into sign language for the groom’s deaf mother. It was fascinating, and during the reception I often found myself forgetting to watch the actual speech maker in lieu of the translator. Very distracting.

Regardless, a good time was had by all. To prove it, here is the requisite artsy wedding photo:

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The next day, we discovered (as we had on the first) that not everyone had planned to stay as long as we had. In fact, that was precisely no one, including the bride and groom. So, since we were sick of the 5-mile stretch of road that we’d been inhabiting for the past few days, the affianced and I decided to head into Cleveland to find a good time.

Instead, we found a desolate, heat-stricken wasteland, with few denizens and even fewer open establishments to serve the foolish souls who had chosen to venture out on that day.

No, it wasn’t that bad, but it was certainly deserted, even in the parts of town that we’d been promised were “the” place to go. It felt rather like a ghost town, or even a post-apocalyptic America in which the buildings and industrial structures are intact but the population is all gone save for a few poor individuals who are left to crisp in the sun…

OK so it was an extremely hot afternoon, and being the Californian lightweight that I am, I can’t help but tend slightly toward hyperbole in this case. But seriously… it was 93 degrees at 9:00 PM, in the shade. That’s just wrong, in so many ways.

And look…

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Clearly the remnants of some once-great civilization. At least they still had good beer, that is, assuming you didn’t expire of thirst before the waiters got it to your table. (We had consistently abysmal – but very friendly! – service during our entire time there, including a very European meal on Friday night that lasted from 7:30 PM until almost 11!)

So, after another day spent in nearly constant locomotion (that would be 11 hours from door to door), we are finally back home in blessed, cool, inhabited, definitively un-postapocalyptic Santa Cruz. Don’t get me wrong – I had a great time in Oh-hi-yo. It was wonderful to see old friends, and to make new ones. Plus I got to go somewhere I’d never been before, which is always a plus.

It’s just that every time I leave California, I realize just how happy I am to come home.

 

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