|Fredericksburg, Ohio, March 2009 - Photo by Jenny Kaczorowski|
My family and I just returned from a trip to my native Northeastern Ohio and while it is good to be home, part of my heart will always belong to Cleveland. There is something wonderfully ordinary about small town Ohio. I graduated from a class of about 140, many of whom came from families who had lived in our town for five generations or more. Our mayor was also the barber and the fire chief owned one of the bars. My favorite teacher grew up there and his mother still goes to church with my parents. I remember walking to school and desperately wishing SOMETHING extraordinary would happen. It seemed impossible that my life could be so woefully average.
Now, as a writer, I get to imagine all the wonderful, dangerous, exciting things that COULD have happened. Ohio is lush and beautiful. Contrasted with Los Angeles, it is wild and undeveloped. Monsters could lurk in the woods!
I suppose I could write about Los Angeles. I've lived here for nearly eight years. But LA isn't melancholy. It isn't prone to mood swings. LA is like a 10-year-old, stubbornly optimistic despite the overwhelming odds that it won't grow up to be president. Ohio is a surly teenager. Alternately the most lovely and most depressing place I've ever visited, Ohio still sparks my imagination and stirs my soul. West River may be entirely fictional, but it is all the best things from all the best places I've loved in Ohio and it's always a delight to visit those places again.