You always grow familiar with a certain place after you have lived there for some time.
For over two years, the rural Oklahoma town of Woodward, a place I never thought I would venture to before the summer of 2016, was my home for work, where I learned to appreciate the small town life after living in a suburb close to Pittsburgh growing up, although I enjoyed the work trip or weekend getaway to Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Kansas City once in a while, which felt more familiar.
On November 5, 2018, I took Highway 412 east out of Woodward for the last time and made my way to Cincinnati, Ohio on the same route I took out west over two years prior. The next day, I’m following my GPS to this neighborhood called Oakley to a leasing office where after settling payment on my old apartment 1,000 miles away, I’m signing a lease and putting down a security deposit on one I haven’t seen, only going by what my dad, who was kind enough to drive in from Pittsburgh a week or so prior to look at a few places while I wrapped up my time in Oklahoma, saw during a tour. It turns out he did a great job. Then again, he sells insurance for a living, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
The summer I got the call about the job in Oklahoma was around the time I was last in Cincinnati. I was in town for one night, mainly to see a Reds before heading to Louisville, Lexington and then Indianapolis to see minor league games. So when I arrived, like any newbie, I had no idea what was around me.
MadTree Brewing was recommended by a friend from college, who at the time worked in town, so on my first night, it was an introduction to the brewery culture in the Queen City, which blew me away. I mean, I was in Oklahoma where you could only purchase 3.2 beer at grocery stores and had to buy the good stuff warm at the liquor store, but that has since gone away (thanks goodness), and you didn’t find many breweries in rural Oklahoma, so to have MadTree a 5 minute walk from my apartment has made it a casual hangout on a weekend afternoon or an occasional weekday night. Also, they take care of you if you’re a regular, so pay it forward and tip well when they give you one on the house.
RE-DISCOVERING A SOCIAL LIFE
This is not a stab at my old job because while I worked much longer hours, it gave me the experience to land the job in Cincinnati.
When I saw my work schedule here, which yes, is still unconventional compared to the normal 9 to 5, was a standard 5 days, 40 hours a week, that meant more free time, which was rare in the old job.
I had heard it was hard to make new friends in your late 20s and early 30s and you know what?…It’s kind of true. There are different factors that make it hard. Whether it be relationships, marriage and even those friends having children.
At my old job, I always felt like an outsider. I didn’t grow up in rural Oklahoma, so I didn’t reflect what you might find in middle America.
Obviously, when I came to Cincinnati, being more of an urban area, there were people who related more to what I am: a person with a job and down time they hope to fill by meeting new people and exploring a city, which is basically an adult playground. It took a month or so, but I started going to trivia nights and other events through a Meetup group and have met a lot of interesting people with different jobs, backgrounds and personalities which makes for great conversations. It’s been a reminder that I’m not on an island alone.
I live just north of downtown Cincinnati in Oakley. Once I got settled in, I drove down Madison Road to the square and much like Main Street Woodward, there were local bars, restaurants and shops you miss if you don’t take the time to slow down and look. Then there’s the coffee shops. I have a ridiculous number of them to choose from on a daily basis and they’re all great.
Soon, I wound up driving through neighboring Hyde Park and the homes and square left me amazed, as well. I also have to give a shout out to Mt. Lookout, which is the site of Ault Park, a very photogenic area.
CLOSER TO HOME
Cincinnati doesn’t require two flights to go home and see the family, but only a little over 4 hours in a car.
I loved growing up in Pittsburgh and I still have a connection to the area, so being able to go home once in a while to see my family or go to a sporting event is special. Our family has grown over the last year with the birth of my niece, who I was able to see just days after she arrived, which was special. I’ve seen her a few more times since and gets bigger every time and will soon be 1 years-old: a birthday I don’t want to miss out on.
OH, AND OF COURSE, THE JOB
I can’t end this without talking about the job I moved here to take.
It has been great. There have been some changes in the first year, but it remains the same welcoming, upbeat place it was when I first arrived. I mentioned in a previous post I had to leave sportscasting behind for now in the new gig, but it has only made me a better news anchor and reporter and continues to.
We all long for a job we’re happy to go to, a place that makes us feel at home, even if it’s not where we’re originally from, and we seek a sense of community from acquaintances, with some becoming friends.
Right now, I have that in Cincinnati, even if I get criticized for being a Steelers and Pirates fan at times.
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