Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Home confusing home

Fab fiance and I just returned from a whirlwind wedding planning weekend in Dayton and Cincinnati, our respective hometowns. I left Cincinnati at age 18, drowning in self-doubt, depression, and a desperation to leave behind the identity- fat, kid-from-divorced-home-amidst-LeaveItToBeaver-neighborhood, overly politically active, angry, and reeling from the fact that I had no emotional tools at my disposal to "process", Dr. Phil style, the sexual assault I experienced at age 15. I was escaping my identity- equal parts foisted upon me and embraced by me as a means of justifying my anger towards the things around me which I could not control- just as much as I was escaping the small-ish town in which I grew up.

I left Ohio shaking my hands to the heavens, Miss Scarlett style, swearing, "As God as my witness, I will never live in Ohio again!" Joke's on me that no fewer than three weeks into my freshman year of college at American University that I met a lovely boy from less than 40 minutes up the road from my hometown, fell in love with him the next year, and am now preparing to walk down the aisle with him in 54 weeks (but who's counting?). Dreaming up the ways we plan to show off our shared heritage, I am again and again being struck by the wonderful aspects of my (gulp...I have tried to shrug this label for nine years) hometown. The beautiful art deco architecture, the lush foliage thick with deer (much to the chagrin of the Oakwood city council), and, yes, the affordable cost of housing. My fiance's home village claims one of the best school districts in the country, and running around the track with him and my in-laws this weekend I couldn't help feeling that I was cheating any potential offspring out of the opportunity for a tremendous future by completely shutting my mind to the possibility of returning. Of course, it's not just good schools and the prospects of home ownership that appeal, it's the fact that I emotionally mark my seasons with Cincinnati's many alluring festivals- trips to the not-so-scary haunted hay ride, cutting down fresh Christmas trees (sorry environmentalist pals), Khron's Conservatory spring flower shows, and the annual summer 14 hour pilgrimage in search of the nearest beach.

As I write this five days before my 28th birthday, I have the feeling that perhaps I have settled into an identity that no longer has to be defined simply by what I am not- namely, the overweight, over defensive, over eager to define a new me girl I was when I packed up my red LeBaron convertible and rolled out of town in a cloud of dust and defensiveness nine years ago. Perhaps I am not ready to head 'home' today, but I am grateful to embrace the possibility that my new found sense of self can stick, regardless of where I call home.
Enjoying the view of the Ohio river.

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