Fourth of July has always been a big deal in my family, as it should be. It marks the most important birthday of all, that of ‘murica! This particular fourth was exceptionally awesome. The weekend started off great. We had some family time that was extra special. I am not sure if Atticus was just in moddler mode (defined as “a model toddler”) or we were just ready to relax and we actually threw ourselves into autopilot. Having no obligations, no rules, and being laid back is the best strategy to a toddler being a moddler; the less conflict, the better. For whatever the reason, not only did I genuinely enjoy my people this weekend, but I realized I kind of love my city.
Cincinnati was not on my list of dream cities, honestly, it didn’t even rank. But through a series of decisions this is where I am today. 8 years ago when we moved here, it was easy to hate on the city. There were few restaurants, and no nightlife, so disparaging comments about Cincinnati’s delay in growth made sense. Everyone agreed that we were living the Mark Twain ideal that Cincinnati was 20 years behind the rest of the world.
“When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.” -Mark Twain
But today, no matter how hard I try to hate on the city, I can’t help but love it. Between Bluegrass night at Washington Park, the Fort Thomas community 4th party, the Cincinnati Nature Preserve, and just being able to go to my mom’s for a patriotic party, all within a few days, gives me pure gratitude.
The city is really trying, and they are succeeding. As someone who wishes they were an outdoorswoman, married to a true outdoorsman, but definitely urban at my core, I have the best of both worlds here in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. There are plenty of parks that allow for a good old fashion hike, but most of them have bonuses like grazing buffalo or turtle feeding, play parks and picnic spots. Everything is super affordable, compensation is pretty decent and even during the recession, there were jobs available for us college educated folk. There are a lot of great local musicians so most of the festival music is good, and because I am surrounded by Catholics, there is always a community festival happening somewhere in town.
As middle class folk, with a young child, I couldn’t ask for more. This may not be my forever city, but I am happy to be here now. To see a city turn an ugly river with some floodwalls, into a sophisticated and beautiful waterfront that encourages community and togetherness has been inspiring. Everywhere I look I see innovation, creativity, and most importantly, hard work. I’ve seen parks filled with strung out junkies turn into meccas of childhood joy, I’ve seen ratcheted buildings with so much character being wasted, brought back to life with new purpose. And most importantly, I’ve seen a generation inspired to push the limits of human capability and simplistic living.
Best of all, my kid is getting to see this too. What better way to teach core values, like the love of family and hard work, than to see it at every corner, every day. You can’t legislate morality, but you can live it and I would argue that has the greatest impact on the next generation. Kindness, community, family, inspiration, creativity and hard work are our family’s core values so seeing that everywhere I look makes me feel a sense of belonging that I have never really felt before.
Maybe this philosophical realization came because it wasn’t hot as hell outside? Instead of coping to survive like I usually feel during July 4th festivities, I was able to actually experience the moment. Either way, I’ll mark it as a win. So thanks Cincinnati (and its surrounding neighborhoods in Kentucky) for being awesome. Thanks to all of those that work hard to make it a better city, and especially those who have stuck around to help build it, instead of running away to a sexier city (you know who you are ;)).