A Simpler Town
I initially thought having a week in Cincinnati would be plenty of time to get settled with the movers, visit for a minute and get prepared for the coming month away in Europe. I thought for sure, I could get caught up with the blog and even do some “private” writing. Not a chance! It seems as if every day has been filled with errands, catching up, moving boxes, gym workouts, tying up loose ends, packing, unpacking, planning the future months, trips down memory lane and all of it while I had a 10-year-old, mini me, attached to my hip.
I have driven all over this city this week. It’s amazing how much driving you have to do here just to run a few errands. I’ve come to realize this is a small city with a bunch of small towns surrounding it. In LA, there are 5 Best Buys within a 10 mile radius. In Cincinnati, I had to drive almost 15 miles just to get to one. The nearest Whole Foods, another 15 miles.
All week I have tried to understand why my dad loved this city so much. I never quite understood why he would turn down a magnitude of big city offers that would have resulted in a lifestyle fit for a king just to stay in Cincinnati. I have looked and scanned and analyzed every turn and every road searching for some redeeming qualities. Something I can look at and say, “Now, I can see why he loved it here so much”.
The town I grew up in looks old and run down. The quality of people has taken a downward turn. It could be that my perception has changed too, but a good majority of the city looks run down to me. Maybe I’m just used to the manicured city streets of Beverly Hills and the almost monotony of BMW’s and Mercedes Benz’ in Los Angeles, but something is different here. Could it be that I’m different? Could it be that Cincinnati hasn’t changed at all, but I have?
I visited our old family house today.
My mom sold it in ’05. It was just too much upkeep since my dad died. It’s now back on the market. I haven’t been to the house in 6 years. It was the house my parents built-in the mid ’70’s to raise their family in. The house that would host party after party and memory after memory. My parents filled it with friends and family on an almost continuous rotating basis.
The house hosted Christmas mornings with Dad cooking breakfast and pool parties that always ended with sipping drinks in the hot tub.
It seemed every room in the house had a role in the fun. Whether it be the basement with its full service bar equipped with premium drinks, its own cash register and my dad as the bartender. Or the comfort of the kitchen upstairs where margaritas flowed as fast as my mom could serve them. Desserts didn’t stand to be left out of drinking time with Bailey’s and ice cream a favorite treat served in the family room while watching ‘Saturday Night Live’. Whatever the room, there was always an open bar and a host and hostess waiting to serve you.
I have tried to find these kind of times in LA. Every so often, I find a glimpse of it here or there, but it usually fades into something unrecognizable. There always seems to be an agenda involved in the plans or drama lurking in the evening. It’s always more complicated than simply friends getting together for drinks and laughs.
I dropped mini me off tonight at the local high school football game. It was a fairly warm summer night equipped with the sounds of crickets and jumping insects. I stood alone at the sideline waiting for my cousins to arrive and looked around at all of the kids and families.
This was a small town in Kentucky and a high school that generations follow their previous generations in glee spirit. The marching band warmed up behind me as the home team kicked off. I started to see an innocence and simplicity of the big Friday night event I had accidentally attended. If you lived here, your neighbors would be here tonight, the kids you went to high school with and their kids. You would run into your family members, the town dance teacher and Mrs. Oaks, the middle school science teacher.
Living in LA or any big city has a lot to offer in the way of convenience and sophistication. There are restaurants to satisfy your every intense desire. Shops for every whim and need. An all night anything at anytime. But, I can’t help feel that in LA there is something missing on a larger scale and with a profound intensity. It lacks a sense of community. It lacks a Friday night that would host your neighbors, cousins and kids from three generations. It lacks a simplicity that is crushed amongst big city streets, agendas and deadlines. It lacks a value system that rings loud and proud and without compromise. A sense of family that can warm the cool, crispness out of a pre fall air. It lacks a familiarity of those around you.
I started to appreciate what a small town may have to offer over a big city. I started to see what was so apparent to my dad. The people that surround you can quite possibly make you love a city. His heart was here amongst his family and friends. He was able to look past the run down neighborhoods and the inconvenience of a lack of vendor choices. He made up for it with fun, laughter and an endless supply of community. A treasure he wouldn’t have traded for millions of dollars.
After I left the football game tonight, I said to myself, “Now, I see why he loved it here so much”.