Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Back to Libya Hill


In You Can't Go Home Again, George Webber apparently ticked off his fellow towns-folk to such an extent that he would never be able to go back to Libya Hill ever again. This, I suppose, is what happens when you expose the inner core of a city's underbelly and expect to get away with it. Luckily, I've yet to write similar things about Akron, Ohio, so I'm hoping that the former "Rubber Capital of the World" will extend upward it's economically-down-turned arms and welcome us back. No offense to Thomas Wiolfe, but even if it doesn't, it looks like we're headed there, nonetheless.

We were bound for "Music City", Nashville, Tennessee. We did our research, told our relatives, and informed our friends; heck, we even hired a realtor and walked through 11 or 12 houses. I put the orange "Power-T" decal back on the car window. I fomented plans with my buddy Jeff to initate the start of our planned brewpub down in Franklin. I even looked into a small ticket-package for the Nashville Predators. We practically had "Volunteer State" written across our drivers licenses. Then, Donna's mom passed away. And that event seemed to change everything.

After going through her house over on the far east side of Akron organizing things and trying to figure out how to dispose of 40 years of collected belongings, we started to think about the prospects of moving in to her house. Well, actually, Donna started thinking about it and then began asking me how I would feel about it. I immediately rejected the idea. "No", I thought. "This house is tiny in comparison to what we have and what we want. It's not in the greatest neighborhood in the world. Interesting idea. But....no." Shoot, a year from now Jeff and I will be making beer in middle Tennessee's hottest brewpub establishment. We're just...about a million dollars short of what we need. No big deal.

But the more I thought about it, the more agreeable I began to be about it. And truth be told, in the deep recesses of my mind, I think I've always wanted to, in one way or another, go home. We were already averaging a-trip-home-every-three-months-or-so anyway. The cost of plane fare, hotel stays, and car rentals were already adding up. The last time we were home, we seriously talked about the economic ramifications of moving in to her house. We talked about the enormous amount of work it would take to update a home that, cosmetically, hadn't been touched in quite a while.

I also began to tell people that were thinking about a return to Ohio. I stressed the "economic advantages" of going back home. The house, although lacking in "style points", had good "guts", with a new furnace and hot-water-heater. Although it's nearby neighbors on one side are duplexes and a massive apartment complex, the other side of the neighborhood consists of middle-class, typical Akronites who have been there for a good while. It sits on a corner and on a hill. It also has great highway access, is close to a park, and, if you really strain, you can catch a glimpse of the Goodyear Blimp Airdock on a clear day. But, it's much smaller than what we have and would be, for all intents and purposes (and no disrespect meant to Kay), a step down from what we have.

But as I "bounced it off" various people, including a few clients, I found myself explaining our return to the Buckeye State in "economic" terms. In reality, though, my secret, persistent "itch" to go home is really driven more by family. I thought of the time I have left to visit on a regular basis with my own parents. I pondered the fact that there are nieces and nephews whose lives are flying by at a rapid rate...and I don't really know them. They see "Uncle Matt" and "Aunt Donna" at functions, and only know me as "my uncle who lives in fill in the blank". I thought of the Cleveland teams that we follow and all the money we spend to do so via long-distance, keeping Charter Communications afloat with our purchases of the MLB Package and the NHL Center Ice subscription and more. So weighing all of the variables, I finally said to Donna, "Ok, let's do it."

I'm not sure how it will work out. I'm not sure if we'll sell our house here. I'm not sure if the far east side of Akron will be a safe neighborhood. I'm not sure if I'll eventually need to try to find a job there, a bit easier chore in Nashville, I think. I'm not sure if the Indians will start playing better if they know we live in the county just south of them. What I am sure about is that I feel the need to be closer to my family, so I guess that outweighs the dream of owning a brewpub with Jeff. Or nicer weather. Or a less-depressing economy. Or super-model-type women in cowboy hats on every corner. Or......uh, wait a minute. I'd better stop while the Ryder truck is still pointed north.

-30-

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