Closing Time in Ohio

If you know me, like, really know me, one of the first things you learn about me is that I want out of Ohio. I do. Ohio is a place of infinite potential but with said potential locked away under layers of stupidity.

I keep telling myself I need to get out. “As soon as I finish school,” I tell myself. And I mean it, I’m going to start looking when I graduate. I have a couple different states I’m looking into.

And it’s not necessarily because I think things are better in other states but it’s that I need a change. But I keep getting scared because I’m, admittedly, afraid of leaving things behind.

Luckily though, Ohio seems to be helping me with that. Removing the things that tie me here at a rapid clip.

Through a series of events I had no control over I’m no longer in the home I’ve been used to for over a decade. It’s not the worst change I’ve had to deal with. I went from a tiny condo filled with black mold to a charmingly creaky two story lake house. But while I enjoy the new place I have no memories here nor does it feel like I’ll have any. I think my wife knows it too as we really haven’t struggled to unpack.

My family is slowly disappearing too. I mean, I love my family. I genuinely do. There’s some days where I stare into the darkness of my room at night and long for a day where I can wake up to find I’m 15-years-old and about to go visit my grandparents knowing that all my aunts and uncles will be there. I miss it. But I also have to accept that it’s not like that anymore and it probably will never be that way again. I haven’t seen a lot of them in years and when I do it feels awkward and forced.

I told someone the other day that the only time I’m ever comfortable around my extended family is at a funeral because it’s the only time we have something in common to talk about.

But over time they all disconnect from me and I don’t really blame them. It’s nothing against them or me. It’s just we’re so different and, as adults, we can just except it.

The thing that came as a shock to me over the last year, honestly, was the friends. I use a thing on Facebook called “Who Deleted Me”. It’s a little thing that gives me a notification and almost every other week I get a notification that someone has, in fact, deleted me.

Honestly though, it stopped hurting as much, it’s just, I’m different from them. I never really fit in here. Even when I have similar interests I don’t really click with them. I could fill my home with video games and my gamer friends don’t come near. I could build the best entertainment center in the world and the cinephiles will never see it. Hell, when I used to keep my kitchen stocked with booze, I couldn’t even harbor a decent alcoholic. I’m just not compatible with this damned place.

My closest friend outside of my wife was this dude named Bill who recently moved to California after seemingly realizing many of the things that I am and, honestly, kudos to him for getting it at a much earlier age than I did.

But it’s getting crazy. I have almost no friends or family to turn to now and it’s such a strange feeling. It’s not necessarily lonely because it’s made my connections with those who still want to talk to me feel stronger and, honestly, I have a ton of people online that will talk to me so I’m never without an ear. But you know what it feels like?

There was a while when I was an alcoholic. I was. I was good at it. I dressed nice, I took cabs, I was charming and polite and fun and loved random places deep in Cleveland. I remember leaning against a sticky wall in some dark bar watching some guy play Jazz on stage, shaking my head, tapping my foot. Dancing at clubs. Having people explain to me whatever the sport was on the TV at a pub.

I had a lot of fun but I had this terrible habit. Closing time meant precious little to me.

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I was that guy. I’d hang around even after the lights come on. I’d walk around the bar, feeling the alcohol slither it’s tendrils around the veins in my legs making them tingle as my sobriety would fight it’s way back into control. I’d chat up the employees. I’d even finish my drink slowly, gabbing with the guy mopping the floor as he cleaned around my chair. I never got the hint.

That’s what it feels like to me now. It feels like everyone I know has left. Everyone I could potentially meet is gone. And the only people that are here are the ones that are paid to. It feels like closing time in Ohio and I haven’t even called my cab yet.

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