10 Years in Ohio

We here at the Scalzi Compound passed a milestone this last week; ten years ago last week, we moved into our house here in Bradford, thereby beginning our sojourn here in Ohio.

In the not too recent past I wrote about what it’s like to live where I do — both in Ohio, a state of which I am not a native, and in rural America, which I did not grow up in — so there’s probably not a reason to go over that again. What I do find interesting, though, is the fact I’ve lived somewhere for ten years straight. Prior to the move to Ohio, I changed addresses every couple of years on average, and as a child, often rather more frequently than that. If I added them all up I think there may have close to 20 moves in my first 31 years of life. To be rooted in one place for what is now a quarter of my life counts as some sort of achievement. And of course, it’s been a pretty good ten years.

As one does, I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if we hadn’t moved to this house — would I have written Old Man’s War, for example, which I wrote that first summer I lived here? Would I write fiction at all? Would I eventually come to know many of the same people I know now? And so on. It’s interesting to speculate on because in point of fact I am happy with my life at is, and the life I and my family have made, here in this one house, all this time. It’s been good to us, and I’m glad I’m here.

I really thought I’d have more to say about this, but I don’t. Just: Dude. Ten years in Ohio. Whoa.

34 Comments on “10 Years in Ohio”

  1. Both my husband and myself are from “places other than Ohio” and we’ve been here over half our lives…not the most exciting place, but there is something about Ohio that’s rather comfy…not unlike an old shoe. When we moved here in the early 70s, the big “selling” point for the Dayton area was the “90 minute market”..one was 90 minutes from almost everywhere (before airline deregulation and “hubs”)

    “Ohio…it’s not so bad” (of course, I came from Idaho and he came from Buffalo…)

  2. Jim Barker:

    Unfortunately, at the moment, it smells a little like skunk, because of the dog’s encounter with one of those earlier in the week. But otherwise, yeah.

  3. My impression’s long been something about Ohio lends itself to an odd creativity. We’ve got musicians like Trent Reznor, Kim & Kelley Deal, Chrissie Hynde, and of course the members of Pere Ubu and Devo. Writers, too: William Henry Porter (O. Henry) wrote over a dozen short stories while locked up at the federal Pen here in Columbus, and of course Thurber was a Buckeye. Zane Grey’s got a whole city named after his family. Plenty of interesting spec-fic authors live in the state. These are not normal people. I don’t know what it is; maybe that it’s both close to everything and separate from it? That its an industrial leftover but also rural? After living here for a decade and a half myself, how I see it is that it’s ordinary and slow and middle America — when that suits me I can contemplate, and when it doesn’t suit me it drives me a little mad. Or maybe its just the sunsets.

  4. Zane Grey does not have a city named after his family! He took his name from Ebenezer Zane, who the city is actually named after.

    We do have a museum for him, though!

  5. I moved to the Berkshires in 1997 to go to college. I figured I’d be here two or three years, then I’d move on. Almost 14 years later, I’m still. I met my wife here and I have a good job. It still seems surreal now and then.

  6. My wife, having lived here for 17 years now, refers to herself as a naturalized Ohioan. I believe the same terminology could, at this point, be applied to you as well.

  7. Most of my relatives and my own family originally hailed from Ohio, but except for one aunt they’ve all moved away over the years (mostly here to Arizona). My parents and us kids were the first to leave, in the mid-1950’s, with the final goal being California. But Arizona was where the car stopped, my dad found a job, and we’ve been here ever since.

    I’ve visited back to Ohio a few times. Ack, the humidity!

  8. Actually, @Nicole: Pearl Zane Grey, the writer known famously by his middle name, was named after his maternal ancestor Ebenezer Zane. Eb was the blazer of Zane’s Trace, and Zanesville was named in his honor. The later Zane didn’t take that name, it was given him. Not too uncommon back then (or even now) to take middle or first names after family surnames — especially when you are born in the town named after them.


  9. Congratulations on finding a place to call home, and more importantly, a place you are content to call home. Did the rainbow come with the property, or did you add it in yourself?

  10. Great story John. I’m struck by how similar my story is to yours right now — except that I’m at one year while you’re at 10.

    I too grew up in a big city (Sydney, Australia) and had only lived in cities and suburbia. Then, one year ago I moved to a small country town (Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia) where my wife grew up and where her family lives. And I know how different my life is, and how much I like it so far, for almost the same reasons you have listed. I don’t think I could have done it 10 years ago either, but with a settled family and young children, and a reasonably stable job (at the local high school), it’s working well for me so far.

    Hopefully I will still be here in 10 years, again for most of the same reasons you mentioned. Now I just need the property out of town and the serious professional writing career as well :) (And I’m making progress, which feels better than it ever has!)

    Thanks for the story!

  11. Yeah, I grok. In about six and a half weeks, I’ll hit the 12 year mark here in upstate New York. If anyone had suggested 15 years ago that I’d be moving to NY, I’d have gently suggested they seek counseling or have their meds adjusted. And yet… here I am.

    I AM, however, plotting my escape, which probably won’t happen until I’m able to retire. Still. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life in this winter wonderland. :)

  12. Congratulations on your achievement. May your next decade be even more joyous.

    I’ve been known to spend time in Columbus, visiting the family. Nice part of the Universe.

  13. Thomas@12: Most of the people I knew during my 18 years in Columbus were naturalized Ohioans. I think most of them came for the schools (Ohio State. Franklin, and whatever they’re calling the DeVry school these days) and just stayed on afterwards. It wasn’t a bad place to find work if you were an engineer.

    We used to joke that the reason there are so many Kentucky license plates in Columbus is that’s where their cars ran out of gas on the way to Detroit to look for work.

  14. Live in New York City once, but explicitly leave before it makes you hard; momentarily live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Live in Ohio, but leave before… Well, never mind that… It’s too late…. Onward… Be kind to your knees, you`ll miss them when they`re gone.

  15. Congrats. Growing up, we moved once a year. And then I was in the Air Force for 8 years. I think I might approach 30 changes of address myself. We’ve now lived here in New Mexico 6 years and our house 3. Kinda’ wild living in a place where we know the neighbors, daughter has the same kids in school since kindergarten, and you see someone you know outside of work, every day. I love living in a small town.

  16. I’m a transplanted Chicagoan who’s been in Houston 25+ yrs. I always wanted to move back up North, but now that I’m married (see? I wouldn’t have met my husband if I’d moved back) I’m pretty much stuck here, because hubby has very dry skin and hates cold weather. The tradeoff is that I get to spend the rest of my life with a wonderful man and his wonderful family.

  17. Oh, let’s just assume I made the usual Michigander jokes about Ohio; you’ve heard them all, I’ve heard them all, I’m too tired to do that much typing.

    It was also very strange to me to realize that while I am a transplant of the state where I live now, our kids are very much natives. I’m still on some level puzzled that they don’t know what a tornado drill is and think snow is a beauteous, rare gift from Mother Nature.

  18. In a sense, I’ve done the opposite. Twenty years ago (tough to say since I’m only a year or so older than you, John) I moved from a small town in eastern Ohio to South Florida, which is one giant city from Miami to West Palm Beach. I never thought I’d be here this long.
    On one hand, I don’t think I could back and on the other, I could. I love the diversity that large metro-areas have. If I want authentic *place your favorite cuisine here*, I can be dining in a half-an-hour. Throw in the cultures, languages, histories, etc. and it is a great place to live and learn. However, the hustle and bustle can get tedious (30 minutes to go a mile) and the flip-side of the diversity coin, is the diversity coin. As much as I try to be understanding and want to learn, not everyone, regardless of from where they hail, feels the same way.
    I do miss the laid-backness of small town living, where you can leave your doors unlocked, you actually KNOW your neighbors, not just their names. You know, that whole Norman Rockwell feel.
    I was wondering, John, after 10 years in Bradford, what do you miss about California or Chicago? IF you moved back, what from small-town-Ohio would you take with you?

  19. Funny you should mention that, because I’ve lived here in Washington DC for about 10 years. And I just interviewed last week for a position… somewhere else. I have no idea what’s going to happen to me in the next year. And I’m OK with that.

    You always end up where you’re supposed to, I think, even if you don’t see it at the time.

  20. I have roughly the same story – lots of wandering, followed by an eleven-year stint in the same house.

    And every once in a while, I’ll stand in the backyard with my dog, look at my house and think “Y’know what? I like it here. I’m stayin’.”

%d bloggers like this: