I’ve known Jillian since we were both 5 years old, and she’s probably the one girl that ‘gets’ me in every way, inside and out. Now, she’s raising her family in Cincinnati (our good ol’ former stomping grounds!), a city she compares to her favorite old book. She’s right on; we couldn’t agree more.
Like an old, tattered, yet still gorgeous vintage (not those new, fancy Penguin recreations, I’m talking stinky) book, Cincinnati has my heart. Its pages are yellowed, yet the gold-foil lined lettering, unique color, and title draw the eye into a city that was once called the “Paris of America”.
Cincinnati wasn’t always my home. I grew up an hour away. My sophomore year of college while visiting Kim, I met the love of my life who showed me the beauty of this city on our second date.
We drove through the hilly neighborhood of Mt. Adams and stopped at the overlook in Eden Park, where I was stunned at the view below with the Ohio River and Kentucky towns lighting the night. Of course, I was falling in love with my now-husband Eric, who gave me the googliest of love-struck eyes. He showed me a city I had been visiting my whole life, but had never really known. It made me that much more smitten with the surroundings.
Continuing with the book analogy, there are those parts of an old book that I just don’t understand. I will never understand how the West Side works. I can’t remember the last time I drove there. (Oh yeah, to meet Kim and Scott accidentally for brunch. Car woes!) And I will never understand some of the scummy parts around here that the city just doesn’t beautify. But that’s part of the old-book charm I suppose. Each gritty little place, Northside and College Hill being the closest to us, has its own distinct character.
And then with any good book comes the climax. That would be downtown. That place has come so far since our date in 2001! Washington Park in Over the Rhine, new restaurants, the Banks Project, Smale Park, Great American Tower, Fountain Square renovation, Great American Ballpark, Horseshoe Casino, and now the Cincinnati Streetcar is in the works. We love all of the city updates, but sometimes prefer the quieter pace in Covington, KY for brunch during the weekend – and to admire the city from the other side.
Now that Eric and I have two children, our favorite parks have become those with playgrounds and museums, the ones with trains (Union Terminal, above) and Ikea – for not just its wares but ice-cream, oh the ice-cream! And toys! We will take a weekend visiting anywhere that’s 15 minutes or less from us (most of our favorites just happen to be that far, yes!), hit up a park, and if it rains, we always have Ikea!
When we move some day for greener pastures closer to family, I’m afraid that Ikea may be one of those things we miss the most. But man, will I miss the old-book appeal of this city.
Thank you, Jillian! (Portrait of family taken by Daphne Photo Studio)