What is it like living in Ohio?
It’s an early summer Tuesday and I go for a walk. I see the same people more than once, also walking loops. After an hour, I get home, walk in through the back door, grab my ID, and walk out the front. It’s four more minutes to the supermarket for three types of ice cream and a bottle of wine. One ice cream is gluten free and vegan, two trends I love. Everything is cheap — less than $20 for all of it. It’s a beautiful night to get to delight over which ice cream flavor to choose and then decide the answer is “all of them.” It feels steady and indulgent.
It’s a Thursday and I’m in rush hour. Despite leaving 40 minutes early, I’m going to be 15 minutes late to my cooking class at Sur La Table. I call the store and let them know I’m still coming and when I walk in, chef Danny smiles and say “hi Diana” and then all of my classmates helpfully tell me everything I’ve missed, starting with the amount of salt used on the steak. (It’s “way more than I would ever guess.”) They ask me the icebreaker question and then the class resumes. Most of the class is retirees. I like Danny’s smile and against my will, it makes me self conscious.
Leading up to Memorial Day weekend, I spend a few days deciding if I should go out of town. Work will be closed Monday and no one expects me to be on email. Late Friday night I think it might be nice and resolve to go. I’m fortunate in that I have a place to stay. It feels easy.
When I say Ohio, I mostly mean Columbus. It’s 2018 and everything is finally building up. I have drinks on more than one rooftop patio. Being on the second story of a building feels different when when each side isn’t encased by a block of lawn. It seems like there will never be a shortage of patios, places to spend time and money with friends, now that we aren’t limited to the sidewalk. The city experienced a craft cocktail revolution over the past eight or so years. You can have drinks so good, you can’t help but want another. Deciding to re-up feels like a midwestern form of abundance.
My parents, who I get to spend a lot of time with, send me a text. OSU alums are playing a contemporary big band/jazz show on the north side of town and I’m invited to join, if I can be there in 20 minutes. I absolutely can! I have a cider and everyone is a delight because we are all sharing a fun experience. The musicians, who no longer live here, could not be more friendly. I glow at meeting their friend, Sam the tambourine man, as I’ve dubbed him. Anyone who leans in to the charm of supporting percussion is fine by me. “How have I met so few of these people!” I wonder. It turns out they are a Grammy-winning band out of New York, the same place the former Ohio musicians now live. “Ah, well, there you have it,” I sigh to myself, still in good humor. I feel in the know.
It’s July and I’m in my shared backyard with the sun beating down, making me pour sweat. When my neighbor’s girlfriend ask if I want to join them at her friend’s parents’ backyard pool, I say yes without hesitation. Getting in the water feels beyond good. It would feel impolite to ask to join again, but I feel lucky at the improvement to my Saturday.