Is Ohio Misunderstood?

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One cool thing about Virginia Beach is that you meet a lot of tourists from all over the place.  I didn’t get that much growing up in Ohio.  I met someone from North Carolina that said that she didn’t like the people in Virginia.  She felt that they were strange, and that they weren’t as nice as people in North Carolina.  I told her that she wouldn’t like Ohio much then.  She said “really”, as if to be perplexed.  I had the same conversation with someone else from Oklahoma.  I often wonder just what people really think about Ohio.

If people stick with the perception they watch on television they understand that Akron is a running joke and that Dayton is a strange place, but that is about it.  Some think that Ohio is rural because it is in the rust belt.  There are farms outside of a city, once you get past the suburbs but that is about it.  Every city has farms, well every city in states where you can actually farm on the land.  Many people forget that in many states, the land may not be suitable for farming, so you won’t see farms as much, but there are also farms in New York and Illinois.  

There isn’t anything rural about Ohio, and the people aren’t that nice.  As much as I love to complain about how slow things are in Hampton Roads, when I go back home a few people are nice, but most strangers bring me down and make me feel as though there is something wrong for being happy, laid back, chipper even.  It’s like “why are you talking to me, why are you looking at me why do you even exist”!  Then you get a feel for that hostility, and you remember why you left.  It isn’t like that in cities that have a lot of tourists, or cities that a lot of people move to.  People feel that way about New Yorkers but I never got that from New Yorkers; Jersey though, that is a different story altogether.

Although I do get along pretty well with people from New Jersey in other settings, such as here in Virginia.  I don’t know what it is.  If I didn’t have family in Ohio I wouldn’t waste my time going back up there.  Here a city is more like a suburb; a lot of the newer cities have been separated from other cities or created as suburbs to those cities, so they aren’t really like cities at all.  They are spread out into the wilderness until you hit the next county or the water (whichever comes first).  Some of the cities are very dense, but for the most part people are a lot nicer than they would be in Ohio in a small town of 20,000.  Ohio simply is not that friendly of a place; though things can definitely change once people get to know you, as they would anywhere else.

That is what seems so strange about other areas.  But I had taken things for granted; I had to go back and travel through some areas just to realize how dense it was and just how different things were.  Everything was compact, dense, built up, even in the suburbs.  People had small lots, the streets only had 2 or 3 lanes in each direction and people actually rode the bus and there were plenty of people walking around.  So what is the “new normal” for me?  Ohio is the 10th most densely populated state, Virginia is the 14th.  Considering that the other 9 states ahead of Ohio are in the Northeast and considerably more expensive than Ohio is it is probably about the cheapest way you are going to experience this density (unless Pennsylvania is your thing).  If people were to actually move to Ohio and the cities were able to rebuild that density could actually increase.  

It has the infrastructure, the expensive trinkets, and everything else that a person needs.  It just does not have everything that a jaded individual would want, and that is where the state fails miserably.  Cities in Ohio will never be like New York City or Los Angeles; but if you want a large downtown you can find a large downtown in Ohio. You just will not find that obscenely large downtown with hundreds of buildings.  But I think that it could work for most people. 

I wish that things were different in Ohio. I wish that it was vibrant, that people from all over the United States chose to call it home, and that it had the energy that other states did.  Virginia is killing Ohio in the median household income index; it comes in at number 8 whereas Ohio comes in at number 33.  In fact it is just one notch above Michigan, and that is why people continue to run out of the state as fast as they can.  What good is a low cost of living when you have to fight to get the little bit of money you have?  No wonder people are miserable; I wouldn’t like people either.  In fact in my own household, we are making that median household income that exists for households in Ohio and we aren’t even trying to advance ourselves; if we were we could be living a lot better than we already are.  To be completely honest, it feels as though we are living hand to mouth.


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