View from our upstairs foyer window
My husband and I recently attended an information session about his company’s relocation of several employees to the Orlando, Florida, area. As native and long-time Ohioans, we are reluctant to move. Part of this has to do with inertia. We’re here, we’ve pretty much always been here, we’ve bought a home, our parents are here, we know this place and its surrounding spaces, and we’ve grown to like much of it, to love some things, and to be proud of its being ours. Besides, we’re great ones for progressing at a glacial pace when we do set our hearts on a goal, and the company demands precipitous action.
But there are many other reasons why this specific destination does not appeal, the details of which matter less than the overall effect–the prevailing feeling our thoughts of Orlando create.
Beyond this fact, I have realized that there is something particularly important about staying put in a place you enjoy as the world increasingly expands in the virtual direction. The physical space one occupies seems to become less important the more we imbed ourselves in online cultures and communities, but I would argue the opposite. The more one “lives” online, the more important an enjoyable, comfortable, and vibrant off-line residence becomes.
It has to do with time limits. With the preponderance of time devoted to Web- and computer-based pursuits, those few spare moments interacting with nature’s tangible elements and the earth beneath one’s feet are made more precious for their scarcity. It’s now less about fear of leaving the comfort zone and more about using the physical realm as a stabilizing force for the balance of life.
Considering this, the average reader may think it’s a no-brainer to move to a warmer climate where more time can be spent outdoors easily for a greater portion of the year than in Ohio. Not everyone is a warm-weather person. Some of us need variety and certainly cooler temperatures for more of the year than occur in the subtropical south.
During and after the presentation, I carried myself through all the attractions and detractors of a life in central Florida. For every appealing aspect there was an equally unappealing factor. The attractions are rather obvious with a little thought and tourism research, and it is not my purpose here to flex my vacation-spot promoting muscles. Perhaps the greater curiosity, or puzzle to some of you, are the downside elements. Without further ado:
- too high of average temperatures
- too high humidity during warmer months
- no hills, hillside meadows, or mountains—I need a dynamic topography
- too much sun—I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m not a sun seeker; I’d prefer not to start looking my age or older
- no familiar temperate zone trees—I dislike palm and other southern trees
- sink holes
- no basements—it’s just wrong
- no snow . . . very sad
- noseeums, other biting midges, and a high count of mosquitoes
- large cockroaches
- no land access to northern states—I’m a Yankee snob, what can I say? While I’m at it, country music and southern accents
- the thought of Disney World annoys me
- no familiar wildlife, especially back yard and park birds—see 2013 inventory post for the importance of this to me
- few placid, swimmable lakes and streams; I’d rather not swim with alligators and large snakes, and I’m not an ocean person
- a smaller house for a higher price
- our parents live here—actually a significant problem for our sweet but high-maintenance dog; we would probably have to give her up or put her down (not happening for something like this!)
- most of my husband’s extended family live in Ohio
- I would miss my new writer/artistic friends and old friends in the area; I don’t make new ones quickly
- all our other extended family and friends live much farther away from Florida than from Ohio
It seems like a substantial, compelling list, but that’s only half of the story. The other half concerns all we’d be saying good-bye to. However long the list of cons, however significant the individual negatives, it boils down to the attitude of not wanting to budge just so my husband can keep a certain job with a familiar company. We’re doing alright; we need not feel beholden to the corporation and this opportunity. But I’d much rather revel in the things I love about living in Ohio.
There is still so much to see and do, so much to discover, and so many enjoyable things we already do.
As much as we complain about Ohio’s weather, it is quite preferable to the constantly either freezing or sweltering northern plains, the rain-soaked northwest, the ice-storm laden mid-south, the tornado-plagued central plains, the horribly hot and miserable deep south, including Texas, and the excessively dry parts of the southwest, especially where forest fires and juniper pollen abound. We’re allergic to the juniper, and I need green deciduousness around me from spring to fall. The plants and trees are so pale and dark out west.
I wouldn’t mind Virginia and its surrounding areas so much, but the only other place I would enjoy living would be the New England and New York region. I lived in Massachusetts during college, and I have visited New York City several times. I have also been to Virginia and Florida.
But Ohio is home. I didn’t know how good I had it as a child when I would go biking around and beyond our neighborhood, playing soccer on lush green fields, camping and exploring as a Girl Scout, and boating with my family on the Ohio River, Berlin Lake, West Branch Reservoir, and Salt Fork State Park. By high school, I grew restless to escape my small town, and I am glad I went away for college. During college, my resistance to the place of my upbringing grew, but eventually I made my way back.
I have found by turns satisfaction, delight, annoyance, and depression in my area of residence. Whether northeast Ohio has changed in the wrong ways or not changed enough, I know I have changed. I take fewer things for granted these days. But it’s the people I live among that make this place home.
I communicate with many of them online to some extent, but the chances to see them in person are what I seek and relish most.