“24 astronauts were born in Ohio. What is it about your state that makes people want to flee the Earth?”
The above is a meme that has been going around the internet for awhile. It’s funny, but it also says something about Ohio. There is something about Ohio that makes people inherently want to get the hell out of this place.
I can’t really write a blog about Ohio, but I can write a blog about Cleveland, which is a city in Ohio. I live in the suburbs and trudge downtown three times a week, sometimes more, in hopes that one day the university will let me become a real art historian. Like Ohio, there seems to be something about Cleveland that makes people want to leave.
I was e-mailing a guy from the UK last week and mentioned that one of the things I don’t really like about the USA right now is that we seem to be having a problem with people getting shot. There have been a lot of people who have been shot, often for no reason, in the past month or so. This bothers me both as a citizen and as a responsible gun owner. It opens up the whole debate about whether or not people should have guns, etc, etc, but that’s not what I want to get into right now. Maybe later.
The recent rash of shootings, paired with a general opinion of Cleveland as a miserable, desperate place filled with miserable, desperate people, has caused a couple of my non-Cleveland friends to ask if I’ve thought about getting out. I did manage to leave once before, but–obviously–it wasn’t permanent. I have thought about getting out, actually. My husband and I have talked about moving to the UK, at least until the bizarre American political situation dies down, but the reality is that we’re probably going to have to move somewhere after I graduate. The art history graduate school market is just as picky as the art history job market, and there isn’t a whole lot I can do with a BA.
At the same time, I wanted to write this down and assure everyone that I don’t live in a war zone. I pass through the jurisdictions of three different police departments on my way to and from school–transit police, city police, university police–and I feel perfectly safe. I’m not going to be really stupid and go walking about alone at night, but I’ve yet to feel particularly threatened downtown in the daytime. Come to think of it, I’ve yet to feel particularly threatened at night, so long as I’m not in a sketchy area. As one of my professors put it, “just don’t walk down to the wrong end of East 13th after dark. I think they’re mostly drug dealers over there, and they probably won’t shoot you unless you’re also a drug dealer, but you should probably stick to walking on Euclid.”
The thing is, at the same time that people desperately want to flee the city and never look back, people want to stay here forever and point out all the really good things about it. My friend Alicia is one of those people (she writes www.poiseinparma.com, by the way). Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do when we move somewhere else and I have to pay to go to the art museum (Cleveland’s is free). What if we live in a place where I can’t get $10 tickets to see Broadway tours? What will happen if we move to one of the 13 states where Great Lakes beer isn’t available? Will I have withdrawals? Probably not, I’ll just find something new to drink. Still, you get the idea.
I like other places. I adore traveling. I would love to put all of my possessions into storage and go live in southern Mexico for awhile, but there’s the catch: for awhile. I know that the next few years are going to be interesting, because they’ll be defined by “awhile”. We’ll live in Cleveland for awhile longer, but then maybe we’ll go someplace else for awhile. Maybe I’ll go to the UK for awhile, and maybe after awhile, my husband and son will come, too. I won’t know for awhile.
I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this. Please rest assured that I am in no real danger of being unnecessarily shot, and that, as usual, I am operating with only a vague idea of what’s going to happen next. You can also be sure that, despite the odds being in my favor, I will probably never become an astronaut.