For the second time this week, I found myself lost in thought sitting at a table amongst friends- new & old. While the places and faces were none of the same on Monday and Friday night, the thought was: Why am I not living in Ohio? Both nights, as well as Thursday night with two of my best friends, Brandon & Libby, reminded me how good I feel when I’m back ‘home’. The reason I feel good is because of the company I’m surrounded by. (For years now), they’ve shown me exactly where I belong. For some reason, Sorry Pittsburgh, Ohio has proven to be the place for me. My Happy Place. The place where I feel most “me”. The first place where I truly have always felt that I belong.
On Monday night, at a bar near my old apartment in downtown Columbus, Stef apparently answered a question from earlier in the day, but one that I wasn’t aware of. (For me), out of nowhere, she replied, “The People.” Without even knowing neither 1) that an earlier question was asked nor 2) what the exact question was, Stef’s answer clicked with me and I buzzed in with: What is “what is your favorite thing about Columbus”? Ding. Ding. Ding.
Now let me say that I’ve heard the jokes about Ohio & Ohioians before, from many stubborn Pittsburghers- especially one. And while I’ve learned to tune them out, I will continue to respond that I not only love Ohio but I love it the most because of its people. From Ohio’s simple enjoyment of playing cornhole and screaming O-H (I-O) at all hours of the day/night to their loyalty to bleed Scarlett & Grey 365-days a year. And the simple fact that every Target in Ohio is better than the best Target in Chicago. I love Ohio and have ever since my love affair with Ohio University began as a teenager. And as time goes on and I meet more of Ohio’s best, my love continues to grow. Actually, I think it’s best to say that I remain in love with Ohio because of its people. So I agree with Stef. The best thing about Ohio is “The People”. On all three nights in Ohio, I sat amongst friends perfectly content with where I was and whom I was with. There was nowhere else I wanted to be.
Tonight is the last night of my 10-day holiday break (and tour di Pittsburgh & Ohio), as I fly back to Chicago bright and early tomorrow, quite similar to how I arrived last Wednesday morning. In thinking about everything that has occurred since that day and everyone that I’ve been able to spend time with, it certainly feels like it’s been longer than 10 days. The amount of things that I’ve been able to cram into this past 1.5 weeks is remarkable. Even so, I may have to argue that it hasn’t been enough time. As I reflect on the people who have made this break so enjoyable for me, I find myself wishing that I had a suitcase large enough to pack them up for tomorrow’s flight. Or perhaps the persuasive powers to convince them all to move there with me.
Because we’re friends, or something like that, I’ll let you in on a little fantasy that my post-New Years Eve mind concocted on the ride home from Cleveland today. Somewhere between Strongsville, OH and Cranberry, PA I recreated the ever-so infamous airport scene that has been played out in many romantic comedies and TV shows. Like Friends. Yes, in my own version I recreated the infamous Ross & Rachel airport scene from the series’ finale. But before you get any ideas, let me explain that there was no boy playing the role of Ross in my fantasy. (But of course it would have been nice.) Instead, the character was played by “O-H-I-O”. Yes, I imagined “Ohio” chasing me down at the airport and begging me, “Don’t get on the plane. Stay with me. Be with me.”
Now I’m going to assume that this fantasy-sharing session brought a grin to my friend, Kristin, and she may even be already on her way to Pittsburgh International Airport to stop me from getting on tomorrow’s plane. (I love you.) But the truth of that matter is that it is just a fantasy. Tomorrow morning I will be getting on that plane, leaving Pittsburgh and flying over Home*Sweet*Ohio, only to arrive in my actual (current) hometown of Chicago, IL. And while I’ll spend tomorrow missing my friends & family, I know that I’ll be okay once I get back into my routine (aka lots of volunteering and kid therapy).
So thank you, Pittsburgh and Ohio, for welcoming me back with open arms and gracing me with 10 days of clarity and A.MAY.ZING. dates with friends and family. It was great to be back again.
And Ohio, thank you for giving me a place to call my own; making me feel that I belong; and allowing me still love you even after I left. (Remember: It wasn’t you, it was definitely me.) I will continue to miss you more each day, but I promise you’ll see me again soon. After all, you know I cannot stay away from you too long. In fact, I’ll be back February 18th if not sooner. Take care of my lovelies for me and let them know that I’m only a short Megabus ride away.
Song of the Moment: How I Love You by Rob Laufer