When I think of my hometown, I see the small cow pastures that I would drive by on my way to work, that signaled the edge of OSU’s agricultural school on Kenny Road. It was one of the first roads I ever drove, long and straight, leading from Grandview to Upper Arlington. It was the way to my mother’s apartment, the way to avoid 315. It was the way to Half-Price Books and Caribou, where I first felt the privilege of being a college student with my very own laptop and homework to do. It was the road to the apartment I would share with my husband before he became my husband, when we owned a small blue parakeet—the muse for my first published essay.
The benefit of silence. The mountains were so beautiful that it seemed ridiculous I could awaken to them every morning. The drastic differences, American lifestyles that could sell the dream. Vermont is where I found myself overstimulated as an MFA student, where I studied literature and writing for two years. Here were people who lived in nature, with so little concrete, without loud screaming and sirens and men hanging out car windows asking 'to get that number'. Artists. Trust funds to student loans. Remarkably talented people. ABCs. A professor who asked me how I possibly got in; I never stopped asking myself that same question. (I had catching up to do.) The mountains helped, close and unlikely friendships helped. The beauty of it seemed so distant from me, and yet now a part of my memory—a thing that can’t be taken, memory. Enlivening.
Building a life with my husband, working harder than we imagined we’d have to in order to pay off student loans: the next bubble. Texas is filled with memories of Ohio; calls to family. Pictures from Vermont; emails to friends. A community I feel slightly unable to understand. A town hall meeting that condones guns for self-defense. Volunteer work. News stories of border wars. The honor of teaching. The students who amaze and inspire, who constantly challenge.
The longing to go somewhere else, where I’ll better fit; the bills that keep us here. A beautiful family that makes location matter less. A husband, who encourages me to write. Friends who teach me about astrology, fiestas and magic. God peddling couples at my door each weekend. The best food of the three states; a second language; breakfast tacos; a proud town of transients, traditionalists, soldiers, students and those looking for work. A nice stop.
The promise of somewhere new.