Ohio (1,184)

June 21st, 2011

Yesterday I cruised into the great state of Ohio—our fifteenth state visited since the first of January. It has the additional distinction of being the place of my birth and upbringing. I grew up in Central Ohio, north of Columbus, in a small village called Sunbury.

There were two unique things about my little burg: first, its main source of commerce was a large Nestle’s plant, which made freeze-dried coffee, causing the whole town to smell like a restroom at Starbucks.

The second uniqueness of Sunbury was … well, I seem to have forgotten. Wait a second. Maybe I was going to share that the local school district was dubbed Big Walnut. It was named after a creek that meandered through the town. Of course, when you grow up in an area, everything sounds normal to you; you have no point of reference to its being odd. And as bizarre as “Big Walnut” may be, it is better than the alternative, which would be to name the school district after the other creek that inhabited the confines: Little Walnut. Yes, of the choices—Big and Little Walnut—I think our founding fathers selected the better.

I grew up in a time when the Cleveland Browns actually had a good football team, OhioState had a coach named Woody (which no one actually giggled about) and fried chicken was served every Sunday for lunch, and passed off as a healthy source of nutrition for building strong bodies, at least twelve ways.

I think I still have some relatives around there, although at this point in my life, they are relatively uncommon to me. Coming out of a graduating class of ninety-eight people, there might be some friends left over from previous eras, although no recent contact would mean little to talk about.

As a kid I went to the Presbyterian Church. I only saw my dad in church twice, and to his credit, both times he sang the hymns with an off-tone basal hum, and with as much vigor as I ever saw him do anything else.

I ended up attending a Church of Christ, which afforded me a great deal of technical expertise in the Bible, but with interpretations which were much too narrow and strict to be able to function in a world outside of Big Walnut. I actually have spent much of my life dispelling many of the myths and false perceptions of that experience—much as one gets rid of dandruff by getting one’s head above one’s shoulders.

Today I am in Dayton, Ohio, which is the home of the Wright Brothers, who became weary of repairing bicycles and decided they would build an airplane. One would assume there was a step or two in between, but I’m not so sure that history bears that out.

The state of Ohio is divided into three distinct parts, each one autonomous of the other. Everything south of Scioto Downs, near Columbus, is laced with a bit of Dixie and country. Lovely folks—just more familiar with the Grand Ole’ Opry than Puccini. Everything north of Mansfield, Ohio, is more like the eastern seaboard—or a little piece of upper state New York. The people are absolutely delightful, but do tend to fancy themselves a bit more intelligent and “Cleveland” instead of “Cincinnati.” The middle, where I grew up, is the state of Ohio’s homage to the Midwest, complete with flavors of Iowa and Nebraska, with a bit of Amish plainly added to the mix. It is literally tugged upon by the southern Ohio folks and the northern Ohio dudes, with its main claim to fame being The Ohio State University, which you may know, has recently tattooed its impression on our country.

I pulled out my calendar and realized that I will be spending twenty-eight days in my home state before moving on to New York. It made me smile, because twenty-eight days is the same length of time they demand you stay in rehab to recover from addiction. Is there a corollary there? We shall see.

But no matter where I go and no matter where I’ve been, I am determined to enjoy my stay on the planet earth. Because I see people who insist on preparing for heaven by making it clear to God and everybody else that they are miserable on earth. I just don’t know what makes us think that God, who made this planet, would suddenly have become a better builder just because He was working in the sky.

So you might consider doing what I do, having arrived in my home state. Wake up in the morning, stop making excuses about being tired, draft a plan that you know will be changed by circumstances and enjoy the day. After all, it could be worse.

You could be a graduate of BigWalnutHigh School.

Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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