Here we are.
It's 1:03AM in Boardman, Ohio. The mugginess is getting old. Do people say muggy anywhere else for the record? And while we are on the subject...why are we the only people on the planet it seems that call our shopping carts buggies.
Rolled up pepperoni.
We are a strange sort.
But my roots are here.
Whether I always like that fact or not.
They just are.
This is where I am from.
This place is so much of who I am.
I guess being home these past few weeks (home in this case being Boardman, Ohio) I have felt the need to sort out a few things in my soul and perhaps even "out loud."
I really, really and truly, don't hate it here.
I don't hate where I come from.
I'm not sure why it often comes out that way in conversation or references to here, but I am aware that it does somehow.
Perhaps because I always felt a bit out of place here.
Perhaps because some of the traditions and mindsets and thought patterns frustrate me to my core because my core is so different from that of so many here.
Maybe because I feel trapped and unable to escape to the sea or simply try a new cuisine from time to time.
There is beauty here too.
And I must dig deep and recognize it and recognize the parts of me that have grown out of rich, Ohio soil. 18 years worth of growing happened here. Before I knew there was anywhere else to grow. Before I transplanted my roots many many times.
There was Ohio.
My lungs filled with warm, friendly, crisp, blue Boardman air.
Inhaled and exhaled a million times at least.
But I need to settle in my heart and speak it into the atmosphere once and for all that I do not resent this place.
I simply found myself somewhere else, away from here. And perhaps that tricked me into thinking that who I am doesn't belong here.
But I do.
I do like shopping centers and great water pressure and Chipotle.
I adore that my family cannot hang out separately no matter how hard they try. That they are loyal and selfless more than any other humans I will ever meet. I love that they have exemplified the very definition of family for me in all that they have done and been for me. I love that none of that changes despite miles or months or even international borders. Mostly I love that I know it never will.
I love craft stores and having everything at my fingertips. The ability to have things shipped from online.
There are deep suburb roots lurking far below.
And just because my heart feels alive in the city and across oceans and borders, I am discovering that without my small town roots, I could not know that about me.
I have them to thank for helping me know and understand my love of travel and exploration and adventure and city life.
And one is certainly not better than the other, they are simply for different souls.
And while we are on the subject.
I am realizing a few things throughout this "election season."
#1 While politics used to be a subject that one should typically avoid in public for the sake of being polite and not ruffling feathers or causing division, it is suddenly a point of unity when I'm out and about. A simple witty comment about either candidate, I have found, is a sure and simple way to get a smile and an amen of sorts from strangers nearby. As if we all feel each other's pain and dissatisfaction and longing for our country to be what we hoped she was as instead we watch her fall apart. As we struggle with the thought and the feelings that we should be able to do something about it but still feel as if we cannot. We feel helpless so we laugh and shrug as we stand in check out lines.
#2 Proud and Thankful are two very different words.
Sometimes I don't speak so highly of my country. Maybe that's wrong of me, but allow me to explain what I have been sorting out in my American heart.
I am indeed incredibly thankful, grateful, honored to be American. To bear that title. To be free. I am thankful for the endless opportunity I have simply because I was born on American soil. That I will never want for anything.
Really. I am.
I respect the hard work and fights and sacrifices that have gone into making this my home.
I am not.
I am proud of our rich history and where we have come from. I am proud of our core, foundational values and the things that we should stand on.
But of who we are today, right now, I am not proud.
I am not proud of the values we base our modern society upon. I am not proud of the people that we select to lead our nation or most of the things that they stand for. I am not proud of how self centered and egocentric and ignorant of the world we have become and how comfortable we are to stay there.
I am thankful to be American, but as I know her right now, I am not proud.
And on another note, I am thankful to live in a country that endlessly airs the Olympics. Because I love them. And they do make me the most proud I have been of my homeland in a rather long time.