You know me. I am the polite, nondescript character who travels from room to room, all around the world, always pointing out that the celebrity or athlete or alleged criminal on the television is from Ohio. Because they all are.
I’m always amazed at the way people not from The Heart of It All trudge through life without really looking at anything. It is rare that I come across people like myself, people who feel awe and wonder at the slightest fall breeze and yearn to know everything about everything. When I find them, these people, too, are always from Ohio.
To a Brooklynite, Manhattan is just that damn smug borough across the bridge. As a boy in Coldwater, Ohio, I thought of next-door neighbor Celina not as an ailing industrial burg, but as a magical netherworld, home of the newsstand stocked with comics and the big muddy lake full of polluted mystery. Chickasaw, where I got my hair cut by Art the Barber (RIP), was much more sacred and profound than Chicago, that traffic-ridden ogre we traveled to for vacations. I firmly believe that Ohio’s sky is bigger than Montana’s, and that a commonplace bluish-pink sunset over the banks of the Olentangy River tops anything I’ve seen painted across the Pacific. I am more moved by the memories of wilting fields of corn in a summer thunderstorm than the San Francisco skyline I see each morning when I rise. I do not believe that all Ohioans lose their identity along the way; I am always an Ohioan and make it known at every opportunity. I’m cherished and despised for it.
Every so often, I get the urge to throw everything away (except my Thurber and Sohio map), buy a house I can drive, and breathe in my great state every day, forever. But, being an Ohioan, it is my immutable nature to stay in San Francisco and fondly reminisce.