Wandering: The Time I Fell in Love with Ohio

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Photo by Sam Hirzel

.It was that time of the day right before sunset hits; there is a warm haze casting over the flat landscapes of Ohio, making everything appear as if it was on fire, even though it was practically freezing.

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I was in my boyfriend’s car, his warm hand encompassed my thigh and the only thing with us was his camera. We had no plans except to drive endlessly and to stop only if we discovered a place worth exploring.

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Not likely, I kept thinking. Due to the fact that living in the state of Ohio has always been utterly, and fascinatingly, unusually boring.

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However, as we drove up to this bridge, this beautiful and broken bridge, I found that I couldn’t be more wrong.

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At first glance, it looks so ordinary — until you’re standing on it.

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Photo by Sam Hirzel

.It was when I was motionless on the ledge, looking over the water that I realized I had wanted out of this suffocating town so desperately that I forgot to appreciate all of the little things, the things that truly matter the most.

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I know it was simply a bridge in a small, seemingly nonexistent town in Ohio, but to me, in that moment, it became so much more.

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It’s exhilarating to think how sometimes a place can become more than just a place.

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Maybe realizing that came with standing on that ledge, lifting my arms up beside me, feeling that cold breeze kiss my cheeks. Maybe it was even when I was falling in love with where I was for the first time in my life. For once loving every flaw, knowing it wasn’t perfect, but that it was a part of me, and accepting that it was never going to change.

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Photo by Sam Hirzel

.Living is about the memories you make, and most importantly, the feeling of freedom that hits you when you finally feel like you are truly seeing the entire universe.

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For the first time, I let the moment, the feeling, the town, love me back. It was that feeling of being truly, breathtakingly alive. 

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Because that’s what life is, isn’t it? It’s learning to love people for every crack and broken crevice in their souls and finding that the most imperfect things in the world are sometimes what make us feel exquisitely whole.

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Just like the bridge, just like me.

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It had so many holes and lose boards that it would only take a spilt-second to fall through and meet the ice. To get to the life-changing spot in the middle, I had to take a chance.

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I had to leap across the hard and broken and ugly places to find the alluring ones because that’s what we do as humans: We search and battle and take risks to discover the things worth fighting for in this disastrous world.

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Photo by Sam Hirzel

.And I know that there will be others who will discover this little pocket of beauty in such a dreary spot. Others that will leap across those same boards, share a kiss over the water, and feel the sun on their face and the wind tangle in their hair.

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But that doesn’t matter. Just like Jennifer Niven touches on, “The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”

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Because it was the memories that we left behind that mattered the most. The concept that, at one time, at one moment, standing on that ledge, we were not just another sad story.

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No. Standing there, I learned to love this small, beautiful town…and by learning to love it, somehow, I was free.

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Chelsea Schroeder
18
Bowling Green, Ohio
Germ Magazine guest author
… is a contributing guest author for Germ, which means the following criteria (and then some) have been met: possessor of a fresh, original voice; creator of fresh, original content; genius storyteller; superlative speller; fantastic dancer; expert joke teller; handy with a toolbox; brilliant at parties; loves us as much as we love them.

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