Friday, June 17, 2011

Things I'll Miss About Ohio

Two nights ago it officially became summer-- I saw the first fireflies of season! These glowing little bugs will never grow old to me, never cease to amaze me. I'll admit, when I see them I get a bit giggly with wonder. Fluttering neon as they flit by my head, dusk turns into an enchanted, dark night. What's not to love?

This weekend is Father's Day, another marker of summer, and I find myself doing a lot of thinking. Missing my dad and the West brings a lot of reflection. As I listened to the radio this morning I was not surprised how many "dad" stories aired, but was surprised how many other people found themselves missing their fathers. And then it hit me (again), this experience is not unique to me. It sent me down memory lane a little.

Each year at this time in my hometown is Woodchopper's Jamboree and Rodeo. It is almost always on Father's Day weekend. My dad was a sometimes-member of the Lion's Club, the folks who sponsored this annual raucous weekend. He used to sell beer during the woodchopping events and ride his horse around later in the afternoon, looking official in his yellow vest. In a small town this is a big to-do.

As a kid it was candy at the parade; in high school it was acting (with my dad on occasion) in the ribald yet hilarious melodramas and trying to sneak into the dances; during and after college it was staying up all night, dancing and drinking to good old fashioned live music... in the street! Now it means catching up with old friends and family (and still dancing in the street 'til the wee hours of the morning). All of these events included my dad. That was until a two years ago when we squeezed his funeral in right before the festivities. That year the weekend took on an entirely different feel. I haven't been able to go to Jamboree since that summer because I moved for graduate school.

Here in Ohio there are other markers of summer. When I moved here I didn't really care for the town, the humidity, the heat, the flatness.... and on and on it went. I just didn't like it! But I was enchanted by the magical lightning bugs my first night here. Maybe there were my gateway to Ohio and the Midwest.

It's incredible that two short years have gone by. Over the course of my MFA, I've grown to love a lot of things because of Ohio. This little town. Mixed hardwood forests and all the great plants. That calm and wide river. Cardinals! Amazing new friends. Bermuda shorts (I never wore shorts in Wyoming; Thanks, heat and humidity). And there are many other things I will miss about this place.

Just three weeks from now I will be departing, mid-summer, to head back West. *insert hoorays!* So on this weekend of reflection, amidst a little bit of sadness and a few tears, a smile comes to my face. It comes because of fireflies. Thanks, Ohio!

(P.S. Make sure to hug all the dads tomorrow, and don't forget to say, "I love you.")