On my last day of classes at Kent State University in August of 2007, I sat in a corner of the Daily Kent Stater's newsroom, looking out the wall of full-length glass windows to the grassy hill outside. It was a sunny day, Ohio-perfect, & I was fully conscious of the fact that this was my last time to enjoy this part of my life. This was it, & I wanted to enjoy it as much as I could.
On the phone with my mom, sitting on my knees on a spinning chair as I watched students pass by outside, I told her: "I'm going to D.C. for a year, & then I'm going to come back to Ohio." I'd committed to a 12-month job in D.C., but I imagined grand plans for a life in Cleveland when it came to an end.
As much as I meant it at the time, that's not exaaaactly how it all ended up. At the end of that first year in D.C., I was offered a more permanent job - so I stayed, happily, & it was a fantastic three years of growth & friendship & learning to love myself. Eventually, I hit a bit of a rough patch (read: I quit my job & couldn't afford to stay), so I did move back to Ohio, but just for a brief four months. At the time, I was dating someone wonderful who just so happened to live in New Hampshire, mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard, so I found a job there & moved in with him. Then we moved again, also mandated by the Coast Guard, & then, when we eventually broke up, I moved back to D.C. because it seemed like the best place for me to be if I was going to be by myself again. Needless to say, I never really made it back to Ohio.
"You've moved a lot," people often tell me, out of sheer insistence upon stating the obvious. Yeah, guys, I know. I know.
I've moved a lot, & it hasn't always been easy or wonderful & it certainly wasn't part of my plan, but I don't regret my life or my choices or my locations. Still, I've always said I'd move back to Ohio "when the time is right." I've always known I'd go back eventually because I've always wanted to go back eventually. I returned to D.C. last November because I had an inexplicable sense that it was the place I needed to be at that time. From the outset, though, I knew this would a time-limited return to the District. I just hadn't decided exactly how limited that amount of time would be.
I still hadn't decided, right up until last month.
Last month, I spent two weeks visiting friends & family in Ohio, mentally planning my eventual return & what a life in Cleveland might look like for some future version of me. And then one weekday afternoon, as I was driving back to my mom's house after an afternoon at my favorite coffee shop in Kent, it dawned on me, one of those lightbulb-above-my-head kind of moments: "I could move back to Northeast Ohio right now, if I wanted to."
And as it turns out, I wanted to. I want to.
In a decree of fate, I returned to D.C. later that week to find that my rent will go up by $100 at the end of November, when my lease expires. Sure, I could stay here on a month-to-month basis, paying that higher rent & not saving a damn thing, but... why? Why bother? It's expensive here, so expensive that I can't afford to do most of the things that would allow me to enjoy my life here the way that life here ought to be enjoyed. And while I love my friends & my office & my life in D.C., the simple counter-argument against living here is just that Ohio beckons. Because Ohio has always beckoned.
So on November 21st, I'm going home.
The details don't matter; trust that I'll share them with you eventually. For now, all that matters is that this feels right. For the first time since I moved to D.C. in 2007, I'm moving because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. I'm not unemployed or bound to the military or in the middle of a breakup. I just want to be someplace else - so I'm going there.
An unexpectedly wise man from Akron once said, "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have." And like LeBron, "I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home."