8/06/2014

My Northwest Ohio

Hi, I'm Vanessa Ridley. I'm from Northwest Ohio.

It's been hard for me to say that for the past five years. People from Northwest Ohio were born and raised here. For generations. Their parents, their parents' parents, and their parents' parents' parents live here. And they all still live here.

I'm the new girl, but I've always been the new girl. I've moved 13 times and have lived in 6 different states. 

While I've connected pretty well in other states and towns, it has been difficult for me to connect with this area. There are very few transplants like me around here, and even fewer who know how to reach out to the rare newcomer. 

And then there's the landscape. The cornfields, the flat open pastures, the old farmhouses and barns on every road (which are all numbered or lettered county roads) were a novelty at first. So different from what I was used to.

The past few years especially have been tough as the excitement I got from the adventure of moving to Ohio wore off, and the reality of actually living here settled in. But things have gotten better. I've made some friends, and I'm closer than ever with my husband's family who all live here. 

Now it's time to embrace this area not just for its people, but for the simple beauty it has to offer.  

This year I've been finding the quaint coffee shops, the diners, the historical landmarks, the antique stores. I've found hiking trails and taken walks by the river. I've sat on the park benches and just listened to the laughter of my children and the crickets chirping. I've been attending the local festivals and doing my best to stay involved at our church and in our community. But mostly, I've been finding the beauty in the small things. The beauty that is always there no matter where you live.