My Ohio has layers of disclaimers and justifications and excuses for being affiliated with the Midwest, oh my parents are from the east, we just came here for my dad’s work, I was born in New Jersey. My Ohio holds a sense of not really being there, on the way out, enrolling in schools one after another, just way stations on the way to living somewhere real. My Ohio means not picking up the flat accent and spending a week every summer in New England where we’re really from.
I lived there for 17 years.
I was 4 when we moved and went to elementary, junior high and high school there, then college (with 8 months in Europe). Then it was time to really leave.
I lived in California, Iowa, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts. Massachusetts is my home now—I’ve lived here 22 years. But when I go back to Ohio, it feels like home too.
The streets where I learned to drive. The buildings where I learned to read. My friends’ childhood homes where I hid in closets and yards and imagined monsters. The college where I learned to think my own thoughts, not just everyone else’s (though the New Yorkers stranded in Ohio cornfields deepened my sense of inadequacy at being from Ohio, even though my parents were from the east and we only moved there because of my dad’s job and I was born in New Jersey [not that I wanted to claim New Jersey]).
The suburb where I grew up, with its wide leafy streets and beautiful homes, is where my dream mind goes in sleep. I ride my bicycle no-handed down my quiet street under streetlights softened by cascades of new green maple leaves, sitting tall and cooling down on a warm/cool clammy summer night. The quiet whir of wheels under me soothes, and the road goes and on. At the end I turn around and it goes on and on again.
My Ohio is a long road of green light.