1. Summer. The lush green landscape, the rolling hills of the Northeast and the Southeast. (You can have the flatness of the west, Toledo, Findlay, and the like.)
2. The wine. Despite what drinkers of California and European wines will tell you (wine snobs), Ohio has a pretty respectable wine industry by my selective standards. We don’t do good Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, but we can make a descent Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir. Our white wines–like Vidal Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling–stand up well to white wines on the national level (even wine snobs will tell you that). And, hey, no one can make an ice wine like Ohio (or northern wine-producing states)–we know how to use a good freeze to our advantage. I love wine from everywhere for various reasons. When you’re drinking Ohio wine, you have to take it for the context of where it is from. Sure, the reds can’t be directly compared to something coming out of California. But we certainly don’t make swill like Matthew Fox (which is the grossest wine I’ve ever drank, making it the standard by which I judge all bad wines).
I like frequenting the local wineries. I’m such a lush. A much nicer atmosphere than a bar. Especially in the heat of the Ohio summer.
3. The Midwest attitude. Meat and potatoes, true; however Midwest people are much warmer and openly friendly. I know it often doesn’t seem like that. Spend some time in Denver and you realize that people are a little more private and they tend to keep to themselves more. I think this is the reason I had a lot of trouble trying to make connections and friends out there. My dad, who has only visited but not lived there, also made this observation about Coloradoans.
4. The impressive bodies of water. With a Great Lake to the north and a significant river to the south, Ohio offers water that inspire awe. I missed Lake Erie when I was in Colorado. I guess when you grow up near a Great Lake, your definition of a lake is skewed; a body of water where you can see all the banks is merely a pond. I don’t know what it is, but I’m really attracted to water, even though I don’t glory in swimming in it all that much.
We have some great little islands for vacationing on, as well. Last year, Michael and I spent time on Pelee–which is really in Canada, but I’m counting it since you could get there easily by ferry from Sandusky–and I loved it. My thought of the weekend was, “Why spend all the money to go to the Caribbean when in the summer you have all the benefits of the Caribbean in your backyard?”
I swam all weekend and lazily biked around the island. It was pleasant. And it also had a winery!!
5. Fall. Coloradoans gets excited about its aspens in the mountains, which only turn yellow. Nothing compares to the multitude of reds, oranges, and yellows that collage the rolling hillsides and forests and tree-lined streets of the Midwest. Ohio definitely has its fair share of fall foliage. I know I missed this in Colorado.
6. Friends and family. Let’s face it: my friends and family, who probably will never leave here, are what brought me back to Ohio. In my loneliest hours, I find comfort knowing that most of my friends are a phone call and a half hour drive away. I didn’t realize how much I needed this companionship in my life. I guess when I moved to Colorado, I thought it would be like going to college in that I would make friends quickly and easy. I forgot that in college, we’re all in the same boat–a strange, new place and on our own. In the adult world, people are mostly settled into their lives. They aren’t actively seeking friends as much because they don’t need to. They’ve already built their walls of comfort. It’s a lot harder to get people to connect with you. Especially in a culture whose people are just a tad bit standoffish, ask described in #3.
I love my friends and my family. Leaving taught me how important these people are to me. They were my biggest pull back here. I probably should have mentioned them earlier in the list.
7. Culture–theatre, food, the arts. Cleveland definitely takes the cake in all of these areas. Still very culturally diverse, we have a myriad of authentically ethnic restaurants to meet our every dining pleasure. I never realized how culturally diverse we are until I lived in the mostly-white state of Colorado.
Cleveland by far blows away what Denver can offer as far as theatre goes. Playhouse Square offers off-Broadway shows and has a longer running theatre playbill. Denver’s theatre complex was new and modern looking, which the nouveau decorator in me really liked, but the shows were less attractive. I think the biggest show we had while I was there was Tony and Tina’s Wedding. Having been a season-ticket holder to the Broadway series in Cleveland, I was very disappointed. I didn’t realize how much into theatre I was.
8. History. Settlement of Ohio occurred earlier in the nation’s history. The buildings are older, the towns longer established, and the institutions (such as Hiram College) have an earlier history. Many great people were born in Ohio–the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, James A. Garfield (who began his presidential resume as president of Hiram College!), John Glenn, and Annie Oakley. Ohio was part of the Underground Railroad, which is another significant chapter in American history. The Erie Canal. Lots of history that I’ve not taken the time to explore in my home state. (Hopefully, I will fix that!)
9. Cost of living. People can bitch about the cost of things all the want, but I’ve lived in Colorado and I know that it is worse elsewhere. I got more yard for my buck here than I did in Colorado. My car insurance is back to a level of sanity at $800/year whereas in Colorado it was $800 a half of a year. Milk, which I don’t drink, was more expensive, and so was meat. That always struck me as weird because there were an awful lot of dairy and beef farms in Colorado. Most notably, Greeley, Colorado is the home to a major meat-packing plant. Shouldn’t we have gotten cheaper beef??
Anyway, there’s something to be said for living in a state that is not seen as a desirable location to live by outsiders. Our traffic is significantly less troublesome, our housing prices reasonable, our utilities (except gas) are fairly charged. Water, for example, was significantly more expensive in Colorado due to the constant shortage of it.
10. The Tribe. What can I say? I’m a true-blue Cleveland Indians fan. While the Rockies suck just slightly less, the Indians are a team with a long running history. Some might say, “a long running history of disappointment and unending lesson in the unjustness of the universe.” I choose to look at it as a situation that inspires a solidarity among all Clevelanders. We cheer together, are brought to false hope together, and we plummet into the depths of depression and self-degradation together. The truth of it is, when the Indians are up or down, it’s the one common desire all share: to see the Tribe win a World Series.
I remember when the Indians were in the World Series in 1997. I was working in downtown Cleveland at the time and I used to commute by the Rapid. On my way home from work, the game was playing through the speakers of Tower City and, then, on the Rapid. Every time the Indians would make a good play, cheers erupted from everywhere. It was such a cool experience to me that a bunch of people commuting from work, who normally don’t even talk to each other, were suddenly cheering their team on as one. It was the first time I ever heard excited chatter among people who didn’t know each other as people commented on the game. We all had one common goal together, one common hope. That, too, was magical.
You may think it’s hokey that I’m moved by solidarity caused by a sports team’s success. But, like it or not, the success of a sports team really shapes how the people of a city regard themselves. This is my theory of why tend to bash themselves and their city quite frequently. We’re all stuck in a collective Eeyore complex.