Living Out Loud: : Seven Months

Questions for Cincinnati

May 30, 2007 at 2:06 pm

I moved to Cincinnati from Athens, Ohio, around seven months ago. It's great that I can keep my Ohio license plate, driver's license and Ohio taxes — but really, I moved to another state. Not "Cincinntucky" but a state of confusion and uneasiness.

Before ever considering living in Cincinnati, I only knew about the TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati, the abnormally high numbers of murders each year (remember that episode on Cops — "Tazed and Confused" — and of course Jerry Springer. It wasn't the most ideal place to live but what's a girl to do when the only job that accepted her wants her to start work as soon as possible? I tell ya, a girl drives to the city and does well at the interview, and one month later I'm driving around looking for an apartment.

Six months is supposed to be the mark of time when you can rightfully make assumptions about your new neighborhood. I gave myself an extra month and another chance because spring supposedly starts with a bang in this city.

The Opening Day celebration, which was totally foreign to me, is where I spent a warm Monday morning watching an unimpressive parade. Where were the huge balloons, the candy, the ambiance?

I felt like I was flipping through a magazine filled with ads, and just a couple good articles held my attention.

Now I'm past seven months. Luckily, I met a friend at my four-month mark, and we get along really well. The main reason for that is because she's also from out of state, and I mean that literally.

We are able to commiserate, make fun of and laugh together about how and why we ended up here and how and why the people here are prejudiced against outsiders.

Example: the high school you graduated from. Since our alma maters are very far away, we definitely don't fit in and will be last to be picked for the dodge ball game called working downtown.

This is, as of late, my favorite topic of this city, the one that all my assumptions of my new neighborhood stem from: the "locals." Yes, the locals of Cincinnati, a.k.a. Cincinnatians. Who are they? Have they never left this town and explored? Have they ever experienced college out of this county or state? Have they ever vacationed near the Great Lakes, near Tahoe? Have they ever seen a beach?

I'm only asking because the few people I've met who are from here look at me as if I'm standing on the other side of a brick wall. They talk to me as if they can't keep up and would rather not bother with any in-depth conversations about topics that would more than likely be about items outside Cincinnati. If they want to talk about their neighborhood, fine. I would love to talk about the history of Cincinnati and would love to learn more about it, but then they clam up. They roll their eyes or point me to their favorite bar or they're just too busy to talk.

Maybe this isn't entirely true. I have a mental log of the locals I've conversed with at length, and for the most part they have the same attitude but individually they have good points.

First impressions, people! They don't realize they're my first impressions, and the good points have been nixed due to the uneasy attitude. It's as if they need to compensate for something they feel an immense embarrassment for.

Are the locals embarrassed about something? If it's about Cincinnati, every city has shit to deal with, and I understand that. Now you gotta understand I am coming to your city to live and work and have fun. I would like to make friends.

I checked in the mirror several times and I definitely don't have any pus seeping out of my orifices. I should be accepted because for the most part I look conservative. Isn't that what Cincinnati wants? Maybe I shouldn't smile at strangers anymore. This might make me look suspicious.

To all the locals out there in our neighborhood, you're not any more special than San Diego, Seattle, New York, Cleveland or any other city. You're Cincinnati — unique in your own way but ultimately rude. Come down off that highhorse and throw away that old high school rivalry. Take that enthusiasm you have for your Reds and Bengals and share it with the folks who moved here for their jobs or their spouses' jobs.

There's no need for huge amounts of alcohol to maybe say hi to that girl in the bar. There's no need to look away real quick when somebody gives you a friendly smile when passing by. There's no need for immediate attitude and assumptions about folks who aren't from here, because we're just like you. We have experience out of this city to offer, and you have experience in this city to offer.

At my two-month mark of living here, I was told that I needed to lighten up, by a local. Well, ummm, Cincinnati, you need to lighten up, too.