I’ve got a new girl. Her name’s Ohio.
We’ve been friends since I was born. We lived next to each other – not quite neighbors, but close enough. We went to the same school together; when I played trumpet, she played the drums in band.
She’s a badass like that.
I liked her parents. A lot. Northwest Territory never had slaves. That’s not something most parents can claim in the US.
In college we lost touch. I hung with her neighbor, Pennsylvania, who’s hot. She’s got two beautiful… cities… that I loved to stare at: Pittsburgh, and Erie. It’s been a torrid affair with PA. We dated for seven years. She promised me if I came back after I left she’d pay me, get me a home, and raise my children.
She was going to be my sugar momma.
Then I came back to see Ohio. Ohio’s always had the girl-next-door look – not hot, but certainly a girl you drank in when you saw her and felt no obligation to spit everything back out. She’s a bit more ragged than since I last saw her, however. The last few years haven’t been good for my girl – not able to afford to good food, her hair’s falling out, she’s lost a lot a lot of weight (and she hasn’t been anything but skinny since the 70s).
But, like any man falling hopelessly in love with a woman, I don’t see what she is as much as I see her best self. I see her strong. I see her resplendent. I see her hopeful, and I see her aging ever more gracefully. She’s not the woman who girded a nation with steel anymore, but she’s still skilled in ways I don’t think she even knows. She gets used a lot by young folks, and then when they’ve used her up, they move on to sexier states with their siren songs, promising money and fun beyond what my girl can offer.
So one rainy night as we were snuggling in bed, I told her I loved her. I tired to scoop the air to bring the words back into my mouth, but it was too late. She said she always knew, and just hoped eventually I’d realize it. She said she loved me, too. She said she doesn’t have as much as some of the other women, but she’s home, and she’ll be damned if you don’t dance with the one you came with.
For a brief moment, I saw the fire of her past. Bright and hot – the type of flame that melts iron.
And so I stay.