I have been in a steady identity crisis since the age of 5. When people ask me where I’m from, I struggle to form an answer. Is it possible to be from two places, two states, two countries? My story is a little less dramatic than others who may face the same problem. I was born in Ohio. I went to school in Ohio. But I’ve lived and spent a lot of time, especially in my childhood, in West Virginia.
It’s not that complicated. Ohio and West Virginia are neighbors, separated by the great Ohio River. There are definitely cultural differences that I can see simply by crossing the river. And it’s totally a pride thing. You’re either an Ohioan or a West Virginian. A Buckeye or a Mountaineer. I remember being 4 years old and having my great-grandma Eulah explain to me that the river was named after Ohio but “belonged” to West Virginia. That was the deal, according to her. She was a very proud West Virginian. She was born and raised in our tiny hometown and never left, except to go to dinner in Gallipolis, OH. 😉 Or the occasional beach vacation. So imagine how she felt when her only son married an Ohio girl! Sorry, Mamaw. I jest.
So where am I from? Ohio or West Virginia? I still don’t know!! But I do know that I’ve loved and lived immensely in both states. Part of my heart is here.
Being home since my little transatlantic adventure has been just what the heart needed. I’ve been spending time with my cat and my piano, two very important pieces of me that I couldn’t just up and take with me on the plane. I get to run again, on the very streets that made me a runner; where I go out for a run and stop several times to talk to neighbors in their yards who wish me luck and happiness from over their lawnmowers and rakes.
The kindest, most genuine people are the ones in my own backyard.
While my head is quite literally stuck in the summer haze, here are some photos I’ve collected of the places in Ohio and West Virginia, places I call home. Most of these were originally posted on Instagram, @jamie.redman
This is home.