We're staying in Cincinnati for a couple days. Matt's here working on "Around The World In 80 Days" at Ensemble Theater Cincinnati (ETC), so Lucas and I came along for the ride.
I've got to admit, it sure is nice to be out of Muncie for a bit. I didn't realize how much I missed the city; the noise, the lights, the bustle... the people fighting outside of the downtown library. I'm serious. Solid entertainment from the eleventh floor. I mean, there is so much to see, watch and hear in the city. I've truly missed it.
Cincinnati is especially alive. There is an honesty here... and roughness. We're staying downtown in an area that was really harsh when we lived here six years ago, and yet now when we walk down the main drag it doesn't even look like the same neighborhood. I have my feelings regarding gentrification, but to be honest the mix of art, culture, education, and real honest people who are just trying to "live life" is refreshing. In this neighborhood you can't look away from the drugs, the alcoholism, the poor, and the unfortunate... they're all around. It forces the heart to feel and see (literally see) the people in need. We say hello as we walk by, make eye contact as we cross the street and introduce ourselves as we offer quarters in an effort to keep a soul warm at night. There is an inability to forget or ignore the real need all around us.
There are parts of Cincinnati I don't miss. But for now, I'm enjoying the lovely music resounding from the library across the street. I'm choosing to appreciate this really, really old city for it's charm and diversity. This city has some awesome history which has shaped it for better and worse. Honestly, I see Cincinnati growing into a city that has gained some self-worth and really pulled herself together over the past couple years.
If I'm being very honest, I'd also admit we've done a little bit of growing up ourselves... since living here in the Queen City. Matt and I have traveled, lived and visited many cities and towns over the course of nine years and while on the journey I've come to realize there is good in almost every city. There are good people, good restaurants, good parks, good coffee shops and good neighborhoods... but you have to be willing to seek them out. Cincinnati has a lot of good and though it seemed a little rough (though it still may be) when we were younger, some age and experience makes it seem all the more exciting now.
Tonight, Lucas will go to bed early and I will crack the window in our suit so I can hear the traffic below on the street. The library will play music till about ten, and it will sound lovely as a backdrop to the city's noise. The irony of the classical music and the people yelling down on the street will make me smile, because that type of thing doesn't happen in Muncie, where it's quiet, predictable and spacious with farmland. I can appreciate the time we have to get away and be thankful that Cincinnati is familiar and yet, not. After nine years, it feels like an old friend who has lived a little bit of life and is slightly better for the wear.