She lives in the little town I grew up in.
And she is an amazing gatekeeper to our past.
She shares pictures, stories about town happenings and news about former classmates and teachers.
For someone like me who lives far away, this is amazingly important.
Because in this little Ohio town lies my past.
I think the start of the school year gets to me. It seems like around this time, every year I get emotional.
And I can’t figure out why.
Last year this time I wrote a post.
About going back.
To being a seventh grader again.
Or just to being a minor again.
Living under your mommy and daddy’s roof.
As I get older, I yearn for those days.
Especially since my mommy and daddy live far away.
Definitely not close enough to go to their bedroom and lay in their bed and have a good cry.
I can’t visit my childhood home.
Well, I could but then I would be arrested.
Because it is someone else’s home now.
It brings back a flood of memories.
I mention here and there that I am from Ohio.
Not as much as I used to because, with each year that I spend living in Illinois, I am less and less an Ohioan.
It isn’t how I introduce myself anymore.
It doesn’t come up in conversation when I meet a stranger anymore.
Unless they have grown up in Ohio.
My rural central Ohio accent long is gone, I am a Chicagoan now.
My love for rural Ohio, however, will never die.
I moved to Chicago in 1989 with my family when my dad transferred here with his company.
A company that has taken him on to two different locales and to where they live now.
I didn’t want to move here.
Things here were busy.
People were in a hurry.
And the pizza had the meat ON TOP!?
For the first ten years we lived here, I referred to Ohio as “back home”.
“Where are you going next week, Kari?”
And my friends knew what that meant.
Now, it’s just Ohio.
Not back home.
I don’t know exactly when the change happened, but it did.
Slowly and not intentionally.
|My junior high school.
Photo courtesy of Vikki Schuster Bartlett
When we go back to visit now, it is to Columbus to visit my brother and his sweet little family.
We don’t get back to my little hometown as much since it is an hour away.
And there just aren’t enough hours in each day.
I would need an entire day to explore Kell Hardware……to go get a banana shake and a burger at JB’s……….go to the grocery and pick up some Jones Chips………go lay on the ground next to my Gramma’s grave where my Grampa, great Gramma, great Grampa, aunts, and uncles are all buried and talk and cry.
This may seem simple, but the above is my definition of a perfect day.
When I came back to Ohio this past July for my brother’s birthday party and another whirlwind weekend (why don’t I schedule more time??), I was crossing the border into Ohio and a song came on my iPod.
Take Me Home by Phil Collins.
I got tears in my eyes and my oldest asked me why.
Because, my dear, Ohio is to me what Illinois will be to you.
Where I learned to ride a bike.
Where I got my first period.
Where I had my first love.
Where I learned who I was.
Where I had my first job.
As much as you will fall in love with wherever you land, there is no place that can ever compete with Home.
I have now lived in Illinois longer than I did in Ohio.
That milestone happened in 2009.
I was at my cousin’s house when someone mentioned it.
And it made me a little sad.
I was no longer officially an Ohioan.
I was an Illinoisan.
But it’s all good.
I got Jones Chips number on speed dial.