My bff Jolie only lives around an hour away from me right now (usually we’re hours apart, if not states, if not countries), so we planned to meet halfway for lunch today. I tried to find a place that was an equal distance away from each of us, and what I settled on was South Vienna, Ohio. I’ve never even heard of it. Our plan was to meet at a place called Main Street Pizza – I thought that sounded cute.
Well, when we met there we discovered it doesn’t open until 4 o’clock. No big deal, I told Jolie, we’ll just find another place to eat. “Um, where?” She said as she motioned around. She had a point…we were kind of in the middle of nowhere. But I was utterly convinced we would find another restaurant. I was utterly wrong.
We walked a little ways before running into a man on the sidewalk. I asked him where we could find a restaurant, and he told us about Main Street Pizza – other than that there was the grocery store. And so the grocery store it was.
We walked in and it smelled kind of funky, but we put that behind us and searched for some kind of food. We settled on packaged turkey sandwiches, chips and Little Debbie desserts. We took our feast outside and sat on the sidewalk under the shade of a nearby tree.
And there we sat for hours, eating and chatting and watching the ants gather around our spilled food. We laughed at the corn stalks that were painted on the road. It was so much better than sitting inside a restaurant. I loved the quirkiness of it all – meeting at some random podunk town, sitting on the sidewalk for a few hours and then driving back home (to our major metropolitan areas.)
I know it’s naive of me, but a part of me still believes that these kind of small towns only exist in the movies, or a long time ago. When I went to college in Toledo and was meeting lots of people, we would all say where we were from in Ohio. If the answer wasn’t Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Dayton, or Akron (and it often wasn’t), I would scrunch my nose and say, “Where’s that?”
I’ve traveled to the slums of India, the tribes of Africa and the historical sites in Israel…but as for my own home, my own state, I’ve explored very little. It’s so easy to get caught up in the suburbia. I was talking with my friend Alie the other day, and we were saying how easy it is to live in a bubble, and how the reality for many suburban people is that they don’t even realize that homelessness and poverty exists just a few minute’s drive away. To this I would add: I don’t really realize how many small towns exist in Ohio – even just a 30 minute drive away.
I have many dreams, and one of my more recent ones is to live with an Amish family for a week or so. Thankfully we have a lot here in Ohio. I don’t really know how to make this happen – all I can think of is approaching an Amish person at the farmer’s market and asking if I can live with them. I’ll keep you posted on the actuality of this dream.
As for exploring the more quaint towns of Ohio, well, I suppose Jolie and I will continue meeting halfway – but always in a different place. Though I’m really going to miss our cozy spot on the sidewalk in South Vienna…