We got back to Kent late on Friday evening. It was sweet to be reunited with Elliot, who flew back to Ohio a week ahead of the rest of the family in order to participate in a Camp organized by his school’s Marching Band. As we’ve settled back into life here in Ohio, there have been other elements of “home” that I missed while we were away — and it’s been fun to take note of these little (or big) things that are otherwise taken for granted.
Here are a few of the things I’ve missed about Ohio:
- Friends and Family: Of everything Ohio has going for it, the people of Ohio are really the best. They are my people. Salt-of-the-earth, hard-working, humble, fun people. I especially missed my parents and our church family at H2O Kent.
- People saying “Sorry” for things that aren’t their fault: This bothered me when I first moved back to the United States in 2012. I assumed it was an American thing: offering a form of gentle interruption… accepting culpability for bumping into someone else who was being reckless… subtly throwing oneself under the bus for someone else’s mistake… Out west, though, I don’t think I heard as much of this sort of usage of the word “sorry.” I noticed it immediately upon our return to the Midwest, though. Cor forgot a part of his lunch order at the counter, and as we walked away the woman at the counter called after us and reminded us of the thing we forgot. We went back for it, said “Thank you,” and then she responded by saying, “Sorry about that.” It was an incorrect assumption of blame, but it felt somehow endearing.
- A beautiful blend of Forested Hills, Farm Fields, and Factory Towns: Ohio has a variety of landscapes that were not as obvious in many of the other states that we visited this summer. The other places that we got to visit were absolutely beautiful… but it was nice to be reminded that Ohio is beautiful, too.
- Reliable signal for telephone and mobile internet: The mountains in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona are wonderful for many reasons — but not for keeping in touch with the rest of the world. I couldn’t use a lot of my favorite smartphone apps (like Spotify and Gaia and Strava) unless I was anchored to a WiFi network. When we had troubles dealing with an errant charge on our credit card, or scheduling appointments for minor automotive repairs, we had to hike up to Bible Point or drive into Estes Park to use the telephone. Half-way across the Great Plains, though, we reconnected with our network’s infrastructure — and it felt like more of a relief that I thought it would.
- Chipotles next to Paneras: I feel like such a Millennial, listing the internet-connectivity stuff above and the brand-identification thing here… But it’s true. I missed some of the brands that are more accessible here in Ohio than they are out west. And somehow, being away from the familiar commercial-system, I became more aware of the way that seemingly disparate businesses are so often found in close proximity to one another.
- The Arm Chair in our Family Room: This is totally an “old man thing” to realize, but my arm chair in Kent is just a really comfortable arm chair. It reclines just the right amount. It provides support in just the right places. It feels like home to me. I missed it while we were gone.
- Bigger parking spaces in bigger parking lots: You’d be surprised. I bet that parking spots in northeast Ohio are 25-30% bigger than parking spots in mountain communities like Estes Park (Colorado) or Flagstaff (Arizona). Way easier for navigating a mini-van.
- Lightning Bugs: These insects are a true marvel that are really not as common in other places as they are here in Ohio. There were no lightning bugs (a.k.a. fireflies) in the Netherlands, when we lived there. There were no lightning bugs in Colorado, at least not in the parts we’ve visited. Yet here in Ohio, lightning bugs are abundant — and they put on a spectacular show every night throughout the summer time. Bio-luminescence is a miracle of God’s Creation. I love that Ohio gives me space to appreciate it.
This list is by no means exhaustive. But it points out a few of the things I’ve noticed and appreciated. It’s good to be back in Ohio now — and really, for the rest of the calendar year. I’m looking forward to blooming where I’m planted, among the Buckeye trees.