Until this past weekend, I hadn't been OUT-OUT in Dover, NH, in over 2 years -- since before I left for Tulsa. Sure, I'd meet up for lunch or dinner with a friend here and there during a visit, but I hadn't really spent "a night out on the town" there since July 2018.

This past Saturday night, I remembered exactly how much I missed this place (all of New England, really, but Dover specifically in this case), how much I love it, and why I fell in love with the community overall.

And the best part was, it was one of those impromptu "go with the flow" nights that I honestly missed most about the area. The ONLY plan I had with friends was that "maybe" we'd go out for a bite.

We ended up going to Cinco de Mayo on Central Ave for dinner (not a huge group of us, just 6 -- we smart and safe, not selfish). When I left Dover, Cinco was always packed and downtown in general was full of hustle and bustle and people out and active downtown. It was one of the quietest weekend nights I think I've ever experienced (which, good, glad everyone is being safe, but also a bummer). The other glaring difference -- the plexiglass barriers between tables.

But honestly, props to Cinco for taking the proper precautions and not trying to cut corners to stay up and operational, and keeping customers safe.

That was honestly ALL that was different, though. Walking in, you still get greeted with total warmth (and honestly, shock, since I still remember the owner, Cresencio's daughters, as little nuggets, and here they were being hostesses and runners for the restaurant). Then Cresencio came out and man, that's when I felt the love that I missed most from the area. Just how genuine he sounded when he welcomed me back, grabbed me in for a hug (we were both masked, and sometimes you gotta just hug your people) -- it's stuff like that, that means the most, ya know? Add to that his daughter thanking me for tickets that I hooked her up with YEARS ago (and didn't even remember doing) -- people here are just so GENUINE and AWESOME.

And it didn't stop there -- we hopped over to Thompson Tavern across the street from Cinco since I spent a lot (A LOT) of time there before moving, and again, other than the plexiglass barriers that were up, it was like ZERO time had passed. Same type of greeting from the bar manager, Randee, as I got from Cresencio. Same amazing patrons that I always remember, even randomly striking up a conversation with someone who was a friend of someone that used to come out to the trivia nights I'd host there.

Look, the moral of the story with this whole article -- not that I never NEEDED to leave to appreciate where I had been, but the fact that I did and was lucky enough to come back to it just makes me appreciate and value it even more. And not just the relationships with great owners or bar managers, it's the people in general. Regardless of what the stereotype is about New Englanders being "harder," man, there's NO ONE like us.

I've said it once, I'll probably say it a million more times -- it's SO good to be home. Thanks again SO MUCH for the warm welcome back.