20 Years In Ohio
Posted on February 10, 2021 Posted by John Scalzi 60 Comments
On February 10, 2001, I was allowed to sleep in, which meant that when I woke up, there was no one in the house. This was a problem, because I wasn’t in my house; I was in my in-laws’ house in Tipp City, Ohio, and the reason I was there was because I, Krissy, Athena, our pets and all our belongings, had just driven from Sterling, Virginia, to move into our new house in Bradford, Ohio. The fact that everyone else was gone, along with the U-Haul that we had packed our lives into, meant that everyone else was at my new house, unpacking things, while I was lying in bed like a lump. I swore, got out of bed, showered, got into my little white Ford Escort, and drove (carefully due to snow) to the very very tiny little town where our new house was.
When I got there, everything was already done. All my in-laws — aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers in law, you name them, had already unloaded and unpacked our stuff into our house. I literally had nothing to do except receive a buckeye nut on a string, which one of Krissy’s aunts put around my neck as a necklace. “You know what a buckeye is?” She asked me, and when I admitted that I didn’t, she said. “It’s a useless nut!”
And with that I was home, in Ohio, for the very first time, twenty years ago today.
I’ve mentioned before the story of why and how we moved to Ohio, but to briefly recap, we moved to Ohio because after our daughter Athena was born, Krissy wanted to live closer to her family, who had moved to Ohio a few years earlier after being in California for close to twenty years. They moved there because Krissy’s father’s family was there and he had wanted to be closer to them. I, who had no ambition to move to Ohio, stalled for a couple of years. When Krissy made it clear she really did want to move, I said, fine, but I want five acres of land. I didn’t, really, but I grew up in Southern California and was currently living in the Washington DC area, where five acres of land was well beyond what I could afford. What I didn’t know was that in rural Ohio, you can get five acres of land for just about nothing. Krissy found a place on five acres of land, almost exactly: the land survey has it as 5.01 acres in total. She won; we moved.
I was apprehensive about the move. Not so much that we would be living in rural America, in which I had never lived before, although that was an adjustment, but because in 2001 most of my work was in doing consulting for companies that were based in the Washington DC area, where I lived, or in New York City, which was an easy train or air shuttle ride away. In 2001, the idea of telecommuting was still newish, and I didn’t know if my clients would be willing to have me phone in from the middle of nowhere in middle America. It was a enough of a concern that I warned Krissy that for the first year at least, I might not make any money at all; if my coastal clients ditched me then it would take me time to find either full-time or freelance work in Dayton or Cincinnati or Columbus. I would find work eventually, but what “eventually” meant was something I didn’t know. It was a real concern.
Or I thought it was, anyway. What actually happened was my clients gave me a couple of weeks to get settled in and sent me emails that were pretty much, “Hey, can you work yet? We have work for you.” It turns out no one was actually concerned if I was in Ohio. I had email and I had a fax machine and I had a phone. Between those three, no one cared if they actually saw my face. Which I appreciated! Not that my face is a problem. More that they were happy to let me do my thing wherever I was.
(In fact the only real problem was Internet connectivity; in early 2001, the only local ISP maxed out at — get this — 9600 baud. I thought I had died and gone to Internet hell. I ended up paying a ridiculous sum to be one of the first people in my little town to have satellite Internet, which was faster, as long as it wasn’t too cloudy, or rainy, or snowy. Rural Internet has always been a pain in the ass, folks.)
The early years of life in Ohio for me were isolated, but not, I should note, unpleasantly so. Krissy, who actually left the house from time to time, found a job and made friends there and locally. I, who really didn’t leave the house all that much, mostly watched Athena during the day and worked when she took naps, and otherwise was social, to the extent I was social, online. Which was fine — I was working with clients and had started writing books, mostly non-fiction to start, and Krissy’s family was nearby and we saw a lot of them. And also, you know. I like spending time with my spouse more than just about anyone else. I was content.
With that said, I was aware I was a bit of an odd duck around town. We as a family were odd ducks, in the sense that we were new — Bradford is the sort of place where the families have been in the area for decades and in some cases, for more than a century. Until Athena started going to school, we were mostly known as “those people in the Yost place,” “Yost” being the name of the previous occupants of our house. It really did take having a kid in the school system for people to get used to the idea that we were a permanent feature.
Athena’s entrance into the school system coincided very nicely with another big event, namely, my life as a novelist, and my entree into the world of science fiction and fantasy publishing and fandom. When that happened, my profile around town rose slightly, because, hey, I actually had books in the library now, and I think people liked that an actual full-time writer lived in the area, even if he was a bit of a liberal nerd (Bradford, being rural, is both largely conservative and blue collar). Also, I started traveling significantly more, both to science fiction conventions, and on various business-related trips. When that began to happen, I appreciated my relative isolation at home even more. I’m a highly socialized introvert, but I am an introvert, and when I’m done with people I need time to recharge. Bradford, Ohio turns out to be a perfect place for me to be an introvert in.
It also turns out to be an okay place to get to other places from. Bradford is out of the way, but it’s out of the way in Ohio, which is the seventh most-populated state in the union, and in the general Great Lakes region, which is fairly densely populated as well. We’re 45 minutes from Dayton, 90 minutes from Cincy or Columbus, and just about two hours from Indianapolis. At three hours there’s Detroit, Lexington and Louisville; Cleveland is four and Chicago is five. For someone who grew up in Los Angeles, where it can take two hours to get from Silver Lake to Santa Monica, this is all doable. In 20 years we have not lacked for things to do or the ability to do them.
I’m not a native Ohioan, but it’s fair to say that my career as a novelist is; it was born and came of age here. Old Man’s War was written here in this house, in the same office where I’m writing this now, as was every other novel since Old Man’s War (not counting relatively small bits written while traveling). I’ve noted before how I like the idea that so much science fiction — so much thinking about the future — comes out of this small Ohio town where I can look out my office window and see corn grow and Amish buggies clop by. It’s incongruous but in a good way. I like writing here and I like thinking about the universe someplace where I can see the Milky Way at night.
It’s also fair to say that Ohio has been kind to me as a writer, too. The state acknowledges me as one of its own — most memorably by giving me the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio in 2016 — but in other ways, too. When I won the Astounding Award and later when I won the Hugo, the Ohio House and Senate sent proclamations congratulating me; I’ve been a featured guest at the Ohioana Book Festival, and I’ve even had my birthday celebrated at the Governor’s mansion, complete with a cake. I like that Ohio likes me as much as I like it. I try to reciprocate. There’s a reason the state keeps showing up in my work, after all.
(Ohio’s been kind to me as a writer in another way as well: Folks, it’s cheap to live here, especially in comparison to places like New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, the traditional US writer destinations. When I want to send writers from those areas into an apoplectic rage, I tell them how much my four bedroom house on five acres cost. Now, cost of living isn’t as simple as how much a house costs, and there are other factors you have to consider about where you live aside from cost of living. Not every writer is going to feel at home, for example, living in a small conservative rural community like Bradford, Ohio. But Ohio has cosmopolitan metropolitan places as well, and they are cheaper to live in, too! Come on down! Live cheaply! Relatively speaking!)
It’s been twenty years that we’ve been in Ohio, and people do occasionally ask us if we think about leaving and living somewhere else. And in fairness it’s a question we asked ourselves not too long ago. Athena is a grown person now, and much of Krissy’s family has moved away again, so the things that would have previously tied us to Ohio don’t have as much pull. So the question becomes: why stay?
For us, part of the answer is practical: Because we’ve already paid off the house, for one, and don’t necessarily want to take on the cost of another, different house elsewhere. We like our house, so the plan is to make it comfortable to live in and then travel to other places we want to see in the world. But part of it is also: We like Ohio, and we like our little part of it. I like seeing the stars, and taking pictures of sunsets and foliage, and being able to have a lot of space between my house and the next one over. After 20 years, Ohio suits us. Maybe some day that will change (and if it does it will be for practical reasons, like: stairs are tricky after a certain age), but for now, we’re content to stay.
Twenty years is a long time to be in any one place. What I am happy to say is, for me, at least, it’s been a very good twenty years. I don’t regret moving to Ohio twenty Februaries ago, and there’s not much about my life I would change since then. Almost nothing, in fact. Maybe that I should have woke up early in 2001 and helped unpack. Other than that, I’d keep it pretty much the same.
Ohio has been very good to me these twenty years. I hope in some small way I’ve been good for it as well.
Congratulations on the anniversary! I like “highly socialized introvert.” That fits my personality as well–I’ve been working from home since 2009, so the pandemic really didn’t affect my work day at all, except to remind me, now that I can’t do it much, that it IS nice to see other human beings every so often.
Nice article, John, and timely as well. I spent most of my teenage years in Ohio (Columbus and Youngstown,) then moved back after a stint in Northern California to Cincinnati and Cleveland. 30-some years ago I moved to Pittsburgh to chase a young lady.
Now, at my daughters urging (she lives in Springfield,) I’ll be moving this summer back to the Buckeye state, probably to a Columbus suburb. I’m looking forward to my return.
I celebrated twenty years since I moved to the States (specifically Portland, OR) just a couple of weeks ago, and like you find little regret in that time.
Here’s to finding our places in the world.
Your mention of crappy internet (which I know is better for you now) made me wonder if you were planning on trying the SpaceX Starlink system. I saw earlier today that they’re taking pre-orders now.
Well, my Internet now is perfectly okay — not great, but okay — so it’s less of an issue at the moment. Once Starlink is up and running I’ll see how it’s handling the load.
The Yosts were the previous owners of “the Yost house”? Here in rural Nova Scotia, the Yosts would be the family that built the house, possibly a couple of hundred years ago.
Happy 20 years, John! I’m glad that you and your family feel comfortable where you live because that’s very important. Now, the question I want to know the answer to is this: Did you really want the five acres so eventually you’ll be able to offer it up for an In and Out Burger to be built on it? Don’t want to brag or anything, ahem but where I live I have quite a few to choose from. :)
In fact the Yosts did build the house. We’re the second owners, and have lived in it considerably longer than they had.
A friend called me an “extroverted loner” and, yeah.
PC Magazine posted an article on great places in the US and Canada to work from home and there’re some small towns that look really nice. I currently live in Reston Va, just down the W&OD trail from Sterling. But I spent 10 years in Cesar City Utah so I’m comfortable in a smallish town.
I’ve always thought it’s cool that you live here, and I’m glad you like it.
Besides that, the Northern Virginia area is getting crowded… a field can turn into 300 units of apartments in six months’ time….
…and in six hours you can do St. Louis. I know this because my brother was just driving there from Columbus for his son’s volleyball tournament.
John, I know that the rural environs of Dayton are plain people country. In the plain people sect I grew up in, my father worked for a long time for a Yost, who was both a general contractor and moonlighted as a minister. And I know that family has relatives in Ohio, though I don’t know where. Any chance it’s the same extended family?
What does Athena plan to do when the pandemic lifts…stay or go?
Athena clearly aged in the two photos. But Krissy got younger in her photos. How’d that happen?
I’m happy you’ve found a place here.
One hope I have for this pandemic is more professions accepting remote work. I think the country would do well to have a greater mix of people in the rural areas and some of the smaller towns could use the revitalization of new families looking for breathing room.
I dunno — I can’t see living in a place where I’m the only Progressive in an Election District so far right they think the Democratic Party(!) are “Socialists”(!!!).
You mentioning how all of your SF was written in that house in rural Ohio made me think of Robert E. Howard writing Conan in tiny Cross Plains Texas. It makes me wonder what the statistics would show of SF/Fantasy writers living in urban vs. rural locations.
So wait were you in-laws saying you were a useless nut?
What a day that was – May 10, 2009, when we celebrated your 40th birthday at the Ohioana Book Festival AND with First Lady Frances Strickland! Congrats John, on 20 years in the Buckeye State. The Ohioana Library is proud to claim you as an Ohio author.
John D. Holsinger:
No idea. “Yost” is by no means an uncommon name around here, so it’s possible it’s used my multiple families only marginally related.
This, in of itself, is worthy of a novel. These kind of blog stories where you talk about your life and how you came about to where you’re at in life are my favourite ones.
Well, I certainly appreciate your living here in Ohio, since it meant you were able to easily visit the Pickerington Library a few years back. And now I have a single book with both your and Isaac Asimov’s signatures in it. Continued best wishes, and I hope Ohio continues to be nice to you!
Per P. J. O’Rourke, it will stop being “The Yost Place” and become “The Scalzi Place” as soon as you die there.
I’m actually going to be in Ohio later this month right down the road in Dayton, visiting Wright University with my son! Don’t worry, we won’t stop by because 1. pandemic (we have N95s, but it will still be hard enough to stay safe travelling COVID-wise) and 2. I wouldn’t want random people showing up at my house, either. Although we may stop by Jay and Mary’s books on the way up to Kalamazoo (also visiting WMU) as I need to replace the signed edition of Redshirts I lent out and never got back, and they may have one.
9 years since I left the southwest, California and Arizona and relocated to Whidbey Island Washington, I had picked up a free autographed copy of OMW directly from your hand at the 2007 San Diego ComicCon and it’s been a wild ride since then. Thanks for all of the entertainment to my family over the years.
Troyce @ February 10, 2021, 6:10 pm
My impression is that a lot of previously urban SF writers end up moving out to rural locations because of the lower cost of living, and the job doesn’t require frequent in-person contact. Not why OGH did, but many do.
Your move to Ohio was a mere two months later than our move to Michigan, where my wife moved from the metropolis of Boston. It was our compromise to be half way from each parent and also move from a metro area to a modest sized town, where rural me and urban her would get along well.
Like you, we have few complaints about moving to the Midwest. Like you, we’ve almost left, and then changed our minds because we don’t want a new house payment. Midwest America is pretty cool, not sure we need to go anywhere at this point…
Do the words ‘happy’ and ‘circumstance’ combine to ‘happystance’ ? Sounds to me like ‘if yes, then we it.’
Anyway, there’s the parable of the bird, the horse and the cat…
Congratulations, liking where you live is half the battle. We’re in the woods of West Michigan near Lake Michigan. Not bad if you can tolerate lake effect snow.
I have experienced 9600 baud. Heck, I have experienced 1200 baud. I don’t miss those dial-up internet days.
I’m still in Austin, where I’ve lived most of my life but it’s quadrupled in size in the past forty years, is fast becoming unaffordable, and increasingly has most of the big city problems without big city perks. We’ve wanted to move somewhere more rural and affordable for ages now, but my current job can’t happen remote so we’ve got to stay put for now at least.
I love where I live — we’re in Southern California, near where my husband and I both went to high school. It’s been a fantastic place to raise our three kids, but with the cost of living (and housing) going up, we’re not sure we will retire here. Among other things affecting that decision may well be where our sons end up as they move on, and which of them have children. I grew up and went to college in small towns, and have had very mixed (read: somewhat bad) experiences with them, so my milieu is the “small city.” I don’t really like living anywhere with less than 80,000 people. I think for some of us who belong to minority or disabled populations, there’s more of a comfort in not standing out too much from the crowd. Also better chances that we will be able to access services, medical and otherwise.
At one point, I said I would never live away from the West Coast again, but this is a beautiful country and I wouldn’t mind living closer to nature as I age. I’m glad you enjoy your corner of the world!
I’m not sure what it means, if anything, that you and you family moved to Ohio about 5 months before I and my family moved to Ohio (several hours northeast, but still). We had a 3 year old then, and now we have a 22 year old and a 17 year old. Big change for us was that my spouse became the primary income earner, and I got to stay home with the kids, which was the flipside of New Jersey. But I distinctly remember being amazed that what we got for a 2 bedroom bungalow in a not nice neighborhood in NJ was enough for a 4 BR house in a good neighborhood in Ohio.
And notwithstanding the multitudinous Trump (back then, Bush) voters here, the asshole per capita ratio in OH was profoundly lower than in NJ. So, yeah, it was a win.
It’s an odd feeling, isn’t it, being in one place so long and seeing so many seasons of life pass there? My husband and I just sold our home of 21 years (we were the third owners, and the longest also). It was the first house we owned, together or singly, and it was paid for.
But as you mentioned, stairs aren’t the greatest thing forever. And we wanted something in the downtown of our small town, a far northwestern suburb of Atlanta. So we moved only two miles away, but have a quarter of the land to maintain, a ranch on a basement rather than a split level, and full walkability (although obviously not so much to walk to just now.)
Looking at the photos you shared reminded me of how we also grew up in our old house. Selling it felt strange, almost like selling a piece of our younger selves, even though we love the new place.
The nice afterward to the story is that the young couple who bought it are us, 21 years ago. It’s nice to see a new young family bringing new beginnings to the old place.
I wish you many happy returns in your home.
Well now I’m just sitting here wondering how you got a mortgage for a place when neither of you were sure you had jobs
So how far are you from the track of the next solar eclipse, which cuts across northern Ohio?
I hadn’t thought about it until reading your post here, but it was right around 21 years ago now that my spouse and I moved with our two teenagers into the house we had bought in this medium Midwestern city. I know it was in February, because OF COURSE the day we moved featured the only heavy snowstorm of that winter, and while it might not have been the 10th of the month, it was probably close to this date.
We had moved about 1,800 miles from Texas, where we had lived for nearly two decades and where both of our kids were born, back to the Midwest where my spouse and I grew up. It felt like coming back home for the two of us, though it was a bit of a shock to the teenage Texans. Probably didn’t help that Santa Claus brought them each a snow shovel that first Christmas here.
We intentionally bought a smallish bungalow that is just barely big enough for four people. The rationale was partly that we didn’t want the teenagers to be comfortable enough living with their parents to stay here permanently, and partly just that we hate moving so we wanted a place that we could stay put in for a long while.
The former teenagers are in their 30s now, delightfully self-sufficient and independent, and while the house is a good size for a couple, the spouse and I are unquestionably finding the stairs less enjoyable now than we did when we bought the place. But we’ll hang on and stay put, I’m guessing, because it’s paid for, and it feels like home.
I am glad for you that you also found a place that feels like home. Particularly when we’re all spending way more time at home than we might ever have expected to, it helps to like the place.
Yes John, we have to enjoy where we are.
I’ve moved to mid-continental Canada, on the Great Plains—very long cold winters. So I try to get used to it by hanging pictures of the local geography.
I also tell myself that I like the indoors, good for reading and Star Trek, so it doesn’t matter that it’s normally winter. It would surely help if I kept sighing with gratitude at the nice landscape—but I keep forgetting to do so.
A fellow nerd from Alaska showed up once, with one and a third meters of snow left behind in her backyard, here strictly on a cultural holiday: plays, restaurant meals, a museum and so forth. This when our tourist brochures for U.S. citizens focus on our local outdoor attractions.
Sometimes I forget how good I have it.
I was born in Ohio but really spent no time there until my father retired there for much the same reason you did. I visited a bit more near the end of his life and what really stuck out was the absence of cafes and restaurants that weren’t franchises.
Nice. My wife has asked me more than once why you live where you do, given the political realities, so this will let her read it for herself instead of listening to my vague blatherings.
Once we got into this apartment more than 30 years ago, I have no interest in leaving, unless and until we do pack up and retire to Florida (which could happen, though not while Ron De Santis is Governor).
Glad you are happy, and yes, curious to see where Athena ends up.
With the expanded work from home experience the pandemic has given us, I think we’ll see more people leave the large urban centers. There is much to be said for living somewhere with a low cost of living, especially if you are trying to raise kids. Congratulations on 20 years.
It passes right over my house, in fact.
That useless nut joke reminds me of my Christmas with my wife’s extended family. Her grandfather and her uncle in Kentucky would use it against my father-in-law who lived across the river in Ohio.
I admit I don’t miss it.
A follow-up question, please . And I hope it’s not off-topic. It IS a real question.
The downside we’re facing here in Ohio now, at least where I am, is the intense fear/anger/frustration I’ve felt towards many of my fellow Ohioians over the last year, and continuing to this date. After a good start, our governor has backpedaled some many times over masking and the like that I kinda want to punch him. And the vaccine rollout is an utter disaster. And the knowledge that more than half of the state voted for Trump, notwithstanding all that he did, makes it hard to view other white folk around here with anything other than suspicion. We live in a liberal town surrounded by a mostly rural county, which overwhelmingly voted Republican. The only good news is that due to the pandemic I’m not forced to deal with these folks very much. It’s difficult to be calm about it, though.
What do you do?
Wow. 20 years in one place.
I never thought of myself as a particular homebody. But here I am, rolling up on 27 years in this place I’m living in now, 35 years in this neighborhood. 50-plus years in this town. Hell, I’m less than a mile from the site of the house my parents occupied when I was born, maybe 1.5 miles from the hospital where I was born. Jeez.
People do move, I hear it’s a thing….
You’re assuming that all your readers know what a baud is. I’d wager at least half of them have never heard the siren song of a modem making an audio connection and negotiating a data transmit rate, let alone the thrill of putting in a second phone line so you don’t have to choose what to do.
Congratulations on 20 years in a sweet rural homeplace.
We’ve been in our rural hillside farm for over 40 years, first few in a really ramshackle Jenny Lind style two up and two down farmhouse that had no central heat, no running water, very little electric when we bought it.
Then we built a new fancy house up in the middle of the 90 acre plot of woods. THEN we got to name the driveway as a rural road, and picked the family name of the first European settlers in the mainstem hollow.
Great planning on the Solar eclipse, right there outside the front door!!!
I moved to the country for similar reasons to you–wife’s family. And while I don’t regret having done so, my daily lived experience was somewhat different from yours.
Nothing against rural areas. But people who are discovering how isolated they feel working from home, having little contact with others, eating every meal at home are getting a taste of what true rural life–not living in an exurb where you commute to the urban area for work and play–is really like. It’s isolated, limited, and circumscribed. When the only grocery is a small local IGA that carries staples but not much else, and a trip to the Walmart out by the interstate to stock up on groceries in a 45 minute one-way drive; when seeing a movie in a theater is a two-hour round trip; when “culture” is limited to the local HS’s drama and band performances, along with sports events; when a trip to someplace with a bookstore is an event because it means you spent the day going off to “the big city”…
My rural experience was before the internet, so I’m sure that it’s not quite as bad today. You can order books from Amazon, or eBooks for immediate delivery; shop on-line; and socialize on-line. At the same time, the difference between living in an area like I do now where I have three large grocery stores within a few minute drive; several bookstores (large national chains along with a couple of local independents) not much further, along with a great community library close enough that it takes less than two songs on the radio to drive there; multiple restaurants, a Lowe’s and Home Depot readily accessible; friends within walking distance I can invite over for an impromptu sunset watch party or catch walking by and invite in for a visit that turns into some burgers on the grill for dinner is immense.
There are charms to rural life, and I’ll never criticize anyone who loves that lifestyle. At the same time I found the disadvantages far outweighed the advantages for myself.
I’m glad you and your family found someplace you love to call home.
On behalf of the state of Michigan, I will note that you could have done so much better than Oh*o.
Congratulations on 20. It was a little over 20 years ago that I left the Northern Virginia area myself (Alexandria) and came to Minnesota.
In ’96 I moved to Northfield (Home to St. Olaf and Carlton Colleges) and then early ’97, I moved up to Minneapolis. So now you have me thinking about all that’s gone on in my life in the last 24 going on 25 years.
cavyherd: People do move, I hear it’s a thing….
I’ve heard that, too, but I’ve never really understood it myself: I still live in the house I was born in, and it’s the one my grandparents bought almost 100 years ago.
Move? No, thank you. If I move, I’ll have to clean the basement, and I not only DON’T know what’s down there, I genuinely don’t want to find out!
Graduated from Tipp City HS in 1967. That was pretty much a non-event. Now live in retirement in South Carolina. Not too happy about that. I think I could deal with the threat of tornadoes far more easily than the reality of hurricanes.
To each, his own — I guess…
Reading your post made me realize I’ve lived here in Ohio since 1992 when I went to Ohio State for grad school. I’m coming up on my 30-year anniversary! And yet I still think of myself as a westerner, having grown up in Vegas. (Of course, that was a very different place in the 70s and early 80s than it is now. Many many fewer people and more mobsters…)
Oh, that sounds wonderful! My Brother lived in an ancient house in rural Missouri for a while! I loved it, but I’m happily married to a city kid!
I really liked the use of Ohio in your yogurt story. I can see why the state might want to brag. :)
I enjoyed the book This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick which talks about some of the factors that go into why someone moves where he or she does and why they stay (or not). I am pretty attached to where I live now, but I had moved around a bit before that so it was interesting to see how things like volunteering made a difference in me not wanting to move again.
DH and I moved from Ohio to HI 30 (OMG!) years ago, after one too many frigid Ohio winters. Still don’t miss having the locks on your car freeze, but I have been caught looking at webcams of snow and thunderstorms, neither of which are common in HI. The cost of living will probably be another factor once we retire, although we hope to have the house mortgage done by then, and the house is perfect for 2. We’ll have to see what happens as we age.
One thing that stands out to me as a contrast between your move into rural midwestern America and my own is the role of “playing on easy mode.”
My wife (American born, of east Asian descent) and I moved from southern California to central PA for my career the better part of a decade ago. The college town proper is pleasant enough, if quaint, but the surroundings are not as welcoming. Over the years, my wife has been subject to a number of incidents of casual, but overt, racism, all involving trips to businesses and other locations just outside of the college area. I strongly suspect that, were my Ashkenazi ancestry more readily implied by my name or visual appearance, I’d have some of my own stories to tell on that front.
There’s a lovely book by Eric Weiner called “The Geography of Bliss.” While most of the book is about his trips to the countries that have the highest “happiness indexes” with an examination of what works and what doesn’t, he also interviews people who just chanced upon places where they immediately felt at home. It sounds like for you, at least, it became home. Cool! (I’m married to a tech-nomad. Some places are better than others.)
When I bought my first computer (IBM AT) the fasted modem available was 2,400 baud Hayes Smartmodem. After many developments such as faster and faster modems, DSL and cable, our neighborhood finally got gigabit fiber in 2019. Now, even with VPN installed on my router, I’m typically seeing download speeds of 450Mbs and the same up. Sometimes it’s dizzying! My, how far we’ve come!