Thursday, July 28, 2016

Back to Columbus, AGAIN

Columbus, OH: Total population: 787,000 
Race breakdown: W: 61% B: 27% L: 5% A: 4%

Upper Arlington: Total population: 33,771 
Race Breakdown: W: 92% B: less than 1% L: 1% A: 4%

Then, we moved again. Back to Columbus. Scott was offered a position at Nationwide Children's Hospital, also in development, and for this transition, pregnant with our third, I decided to put teaching on hold. I became an all-the-way-stay-at-home mom, so getting our neighborhood selection right was super-important in my book. We ended up choosing Upper Arlington, yet again, another inner ring suburb to Columbus's center. Inner ring suburbs, we came to find out, were our thing. They mean less land and houses closer together and less spacious bedrooms (well, ALL rooms) and somehow that all equals out to MORE COST. But it has always been worth it, in Scott and my minds', to say no to size and yes to location. We're burb-y but not THAT burb-y. I remember having a panic-attack, though when we were preparing to sign the contract for our house... UPPER ARLINGTON IS SO WHITE. 92% white, in fact. AND SO AFFLUENT. The median household income was 92K.

I remember a conversation with a dear friend Katie at the time. "My kids won't have ANYthing close to what I had when I was growing up if we send them to this school system!" What I meant was: They'll miss out on the richness of socializing with diverse populations, they'll think that it's normal to have fancy birthday parties with ponies (*we never, during our Upper Arlington residence, went to a birthday party with a pony present, but you get the sentiment*), they'll be entitled little white snots. She comforted me, "Tricia, it's you and Scott who form their outlook on the world. Sure, their surroundings do too, but you'll always supplement with other experiences and not let them be so one-dimensional." Truthfully, I'm not sure exactly what she said, but it was something like that. My own hopeful self-talk may have filled in some holes.

Upper Arlington, just like every other place we lived, was great. Katie was right in a lot of ways. Although Upper Arlington was rather insulated, surrounding it was the largest public university in the country, The Ohio State University. One mile that-way-ward from our house was a movie theater and retail space (the Lennox) which brought college students and Columbus peeps together with Arlingtonians (and Grandvillians) to form a pretty decently diverse little hub. And the church we chose, King Avenue United Methodist Church would find us sharing the pew with gays, blacks, latinos, straights, white-hairs, sorority sisters, transvestites, internationally adopted kiddos, and about everything inbetween.

As for U.A. itself, I had heard rumors that the social fabric of Upper Arlington lifers (those who had grown there and either never left or returned and had a network) was a tough one to break into, yet I found everyone to be kind and welcoming. I do remember wondering, though, whether that would have been the experience if I were not white. The only black people I saw in U.A. were mowing lawns, and that is not an exaggeration. It disheartened me - FAR from what I imagined in my early 20s - but, then again, I was up to my eyeballs in life and spit-up and diapers. And it was a happy life. So, I hung my hat on what we were offering our kids at church and Target, and then went to go change another diaper.

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