Before our holiday travels, I took our dog to the kennel for boarding. This particular kennel is in a part of town that we would not otherwise venture to. Not sure how we even found the place, but our dog, being on the timid side, seems to do better at this establishment compared to others that we had previously tried (as in, the staff is actually able to get her to take a daily walk).
Since it was Christmas Eve when I went over there, I had some last minute groceries to pick up for the dinner we were hosting that night. I opted for the supermarket close by. The whole time I was driving through the somewhat unfamiliar territory and wandered the isles of a foreign grocery store, I couldn’t shake the recurring thought of, “man, who would live in this miserable place”.
Whenever I’m in a part of town I deem to be “inferior” to my part of town, these kinds of things run through my mind. Why would anyone live here? If you are born here, why wouldn’t you move when you got the chance? What’s keeping people here? These are obviously not a very fair sentiments. Who am I to think of another part of town as “inferior”. I mean, it’s just a different suburb of Cincinnati. In the grand scheme of things, there’s really not that much of a difference between the two places. (And of course it looked liked a miserable, it was your classic grey December day in Ohio.)
And after pondering it for a while, I realize that this is a microcosm of how the coasts view all of flyover country. To someone in New York, it probably seems crazy that anyone would chose not to leave Ohio for greener (or at least less grey) pastures. So I presume those people that chose to stay in the neighborhoods they grew up in probably do so for the same reason Mindy and I stay in Cincinnati vs moving to a big city: proximity to family, friends, and all the other things associated with that.
Now, I’m not exactly from here, but I’ve lived here for nearly half my life. And I’ve been plotting my escape since the day I arrived. But the thing is, my friends are here. Mindy’s family is here. My family is a four hour drive away. And now that we have three kids, this network is more important to us than living in a more cosmopolitan city. My daydreams of Mindy and I renting an apartment in the Greenwich Village and taking yearly trips to Europe have been replaced by daydreams of having our master bathroom renovated and taking yearly trips to Hilton Head.
I’m not sure that we’ve made this decision consciously, but choosing to stay in this familiar environment surrounded by people we love will probably lead to a happier life than anything we could experience hundreds or thousands of miles away from our family and long-time friends.
And besides, as obnoxiously sentimental as it sounds, our kids are what’s most important these days. A major part of parenting (I think) is worrying less about being interesting and more about fostering a loving and stable environment for your kids. So for the foreseeable future, Mindy and I going to live in Ohio and daydream about that downtown apartment in that trendy neighborhood we’ll have when all our kids have moved out.