Friday, October 14, 2011

Explaining Ohio

Apple picking, 2009

We met plenty of other travelers while we were in Peru. A few Americans, but mostly Europeans and Australians. They asked, Where is Ohio? In the middle, kind of. Under the Great Lakes, we said. And our fellow countrymen asked, Huh, Ohio. Well, do you like it? People used to ask me the same question when they asked me what I did and I said I was a server. The implication is something like, "that sounds like my personal hell, but maybe you don't know any better, in which case, great for you!"

I found myself trying to sort out how best to say, it's a great place to live, but I'm not sure why you'd ever visit.
I grew up in Ohio because my dad was stationed at an air force base outside of Dayton. Like many of my classmates in my suburban hometown (smartypants, with a touch of affected cynicism), I spent my adolescence bemoaning my Midwesternness and mapping an exit strategy. I applied to the weirdest, most far-flung universities and many of them said they'd have me - some of 'em said they'd pay me! - but I picked Ohio State. I said it was because I didn't know what specifically I wanted to study, and Ohio State offered every course of study imaginable. Really, it was because my then-boyfriend was already going there. I wouldn't have admitted that if you held a gun to my head at the time, though, independent anarchist passenger-on-spaceship-Earth that I considered myself. For better or (usually) worse, I have always led with my gut.

That's how I first got here.

But I'm here now on purpose. Still, I'm pretty uninterested in proselytizing to outsiders about spacious, darling affordable apartments on brick streets within walking distance of restaurants, groceries, bars, downtown, and a major research university. How you could travel from a u-pick apple orchard to a drag show in 25 minutes flat. How, yeah, we get that cupcakes are over and now we have a crêpe truck.

I don't need to defend it. I thought it was funny when Jack Donaghy called us a "flyover state".

I told our new international friends, if you're visiting the United States you should go to New York City or the Grand Canyon or Redwood National Park. But if you ever get stuck in Ohio, we could show you a great time.


  1. Word. Ohio is the best. THE BEST. (Okay, that's not exactly what you said. But whatever.)