Performer: My Morning Jacket
Songwriter: Jim James
Original Release: Circuital
Definitive Version: None.
As I write this, I not only no longer have any familial ties to my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, but I haven’t even been in two years. That’s by far the longest gap of time that I’ve been away. Dad kept his Ohio State football tickets, and Laurie and I are talking about going back for a game this fall, to see friends and to eat at all our favorite places one more time—not necessarily in that order.
The last time I was in Columbus was in July 2011, shortly after Circuital arrived, leading off with what in my opinion is MMJ’s best song—Victory Dance. The purpose of the visit was to get the last of what anyone wanted from Mom’s condominium before having cleaners come and gut the place before we sold it … and to eat at all our favorite places one more time.
I already had cleared out most of my stuff. In June, Tim and I drove a van back and loaded up all my baseball stuff at Dad’s old office and most of my things at the condominium, which led to an amusing turn of events.
We were at Dad and Laura’s condominium unloading a few boxes so we could better arrange what I wanted to take back to Chicago—leaving behind other things for July. We backed the van up to the garage, and were loading and unloading paper boxes when the mailman accosted us out of nowhere.
“Who are you guys? What are you doing here?” I gave my name and Dad’s and said “My Dad lives here.” “Oh … OK. I just wanted to check.” Check what, that we’re not lazily ripping off the joint in the middle of a bright sunny day in full view of others? You want to see some form of identification, citizen surveillant? I later told Dad he could rest peacefully knowing the mailman was watching his place.
By July, just a few things were left, like a box of junk collected as a little boy that included a Pontiac Grand Prix hood ornament—of value to no one. One of the main reasons I took Laurie this time—aside from the fact that I wanted company and she wanted to come—was so she could go through a few things that did have value, such as Mom’s silver trays and crystal.
Jin and Scott had gone through everything and earmarked what they wanted, so Laurie chose a few things without reproach. We did that with a few books, too, and loaded up everything in a massive plastic storage tub.
All in all, we didn’t take much when we left town. Aside from the tub and leftover boxes, we took a wooden clothes hamper that Dad made way back when he and Mom still were married, so we’re talking 35 years ago; my captain desk chair from when I was a little boy, which became Henry’s chair almost instantly upon our return; and the totally awesome Sixties-style hanging lamp that’s still awaiting a resting spot.
But I also consciously left something behind. Plank’s on Parsons Avenue (stories to come) is known for its eclectic decor, but a more recent development is its display of college pennants. I had taken note of it on a prior visit and decided that its collection lacked—and needed—and important contribution.
So, on my last night in Columbus, Laurie and I went to Plank’s for the requisite pepperoni pizza, and I handed over the Wabash pennant I had owned since my freshman year in 1982. The waitress loved it and said they would find a great place for it.
If Laurie and I go back in the fall, I’ll look for it, knowing that a piece of me remains in Columbus, even if I don’t.