I was so miserable living in Cincinnati that each time I drove into town—always on 71/75 North or 74 West—I cried at the sight of "Cincinnati" on the green signs.
Whenever I traveled to other cities or states, I'd apologize for being from Cincinnati, or say I was a rural Indiana girl. (Somehow that had more charm when people mistook me for a New Yorker.)
I blame this early behavior on 3 things:
1. When I brought an old flame to Cincinnati for a visit (of whom I was deeply enamored), he ripped the city to shreds as I showed him my favorite haunts.
2. I felt that Europe was superior to the United States, aka Continental superiority complex that afflicts recent college grads who tour Europe.
3. Native Cincinnatians' own self-loathing.
I couldn't put my finger on this third point until I started dating. Every native Cincinnatian I met, even though still living here, was desperate for the day when he'd leave.
Studies show that it's our relationships that contribute most to our happiness. (Read up on what makes us happy at the Brazen Careerist:
Which leads me to my list of 7 ways to remain in Cincinnati for 10+ years:
*1. Be in a committed relationship with someone who can't leave Cincinnati. *A year after I arrived in the city, I was committed to someone working on a master's and then a PhD at UC. I stuck it out, thinking once he had finished school, we'd be free to leave.
*2. Find a job that's your passion.* When looking at your happiness, the two biggest factors are job AND relationships. If you go into work every morning for the paycheck alone, Cincinnati won't be enough to keep you here.
*3. Uncover the neighhorhood(s) you really connect with.* I first resided in Hyde Park/Oakley, like many newcomers. Then I spent a long time in Clifton due to the UC relationship. I did not like Clifton at all, and it only exacerbated my desire to leave.
In 2007, I moved to Northside, then later to Over the Rhine. I can't imagine leaving OTR for as long as I remain in Cincinnati. I treasure the weekend morning walk to Coffee Emporium, the Cincinnati skyline, the greasy napkins and chicken bones cradled curbside. I know the people, the establishments, and the best of the best. It contributes to a feeling of home.
*4. Travel often.* My job takes me to diverse places to speak and network. I also enjoy traveling around the world (see one of my daring excursion tales here: [http://blog.writersdigest.
The more I wander away from home, the more I appreciate what Cincinnati has to offer, its cost of living, and its relaxed pace of life.
*5. Enjoy the arts.* I'm currently a Business on Board student, a Fine Arts Fund program that trains and places business people on arts boards. While I already knew that Cincinnati has a vibrant arts scene that far surpasses cities of similar size, I've learned additional statistics that make me proud to say I live here. (Did you know that Cincinnati ranks No. 1 in its number of community theatres in the United States?)
*6. Embrace the loving familiarity of staying put.* Indiana writer Scott Russell Sanders wrote about this phenomenon poetically in his book /Staying Put/. I can get nearly anywhere in greater Cincinnati without a map. I can detour with confidence. I know the exact location of new stores and restaurants because they're taking the place of old establishments I used to frequent. I understand the significance of annual events and what they'll be like (and if they're worth attending). I have deep relationships with the people here. I breathe with the City.
Then I travel to relieve boredom and remind me what I love about home.
*7. Realize others can take pleasure in being miserable no matter where they are. *You know who these people are. And if they drain your energy, it's time to find a new circle of friends. And Cincinnati Imports is here to help.
Jane Friedman is the publisher and editorial director of Writer's Digest (a division of F+W Media). She has a blog about authorship and the future of publishing at There Are No Rules [http://blog.writersdigest.