Although I do wish there was bubble tea…

As of tomorrow I will have been living in Cincinnati for one year. That is, three hundred sixty-five days. Or, one twenty-second of my age. I.e., four point five four five four five four five four (…) percent of my lifetime.

One whole year.

I find it hard to believe that this much time has passed since I graduated from Carnegie Mellon, since I packed up my dorm room and moved in with Andy, since I started working and paying bills and living life in the Real World.

Especially in the region of the Real World called Cincinnati, Ohio.

Growing up in Texas, I had enough geography to worry about in my own state, so I didn’t think too much about the rest of the U.S. or the world. Case in point: at age 4 I thought that because (a) Grandma lives in Florida, and (b) I have two Grandmas, then (c) there must be 2 Floridas. S-M-R-T!

With that said, it should come as no surprise that I knew nothing about Cincinnati until Andy moved here for his job, and even then I only learned it was in Ohio. “That must mean it’s close to Cleveland, right?” “Um… no.” “Oh.”

When I got here, I saw that there wasn’t much diversity (black and white and not much else), and I didn’t have any friends, and there was NO FREAKING BUBBLE TEA*, and naturally I thought, “This isn’t going to work.”

But a year later, when Angie came to visit and I drove her to places like Eden Park, Fountain Square, and Jungle Jim’s, I realized that somehow Cincinnati has grown on me. And I don’t mean like a fungus. More like a new haircut: you don’t like it at first, but then it gets a little longer, a little more familiar, and you realize it actually suits you all right.

Actually, that analogy doesn’t really do justice to how I felt driving down I-75 with Angie, telling her about the traffic patterns and the weather and my favorite places to eat. What I felt was ownership of this place, this small Midwestern town that I now belong to. Cincinnati has become my home — one of my many homes — and I’m happy, because I used to be afraid that that might never happen.

I’ll admit, Cincinnati didn’t sweep me off my feet the way Madrid did, but not every romance is going to be a whirlwind or a fairytale like that. Doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

All this introspection comes at a good time — the one-year mark — because I’m typical and I like to think of my life as having milestones or landmarks. I think this is one of them. I think this is going to be a pivotal moment, a turning point that could make or break me. I’m about to take a big blind leap into the unknown. And I’m glad I’ll be doing it here, in Cincinnati, where I’ve learned a little bit more about myself by learning a little bit more about where I am.

*Update: I have found bubble tea! See comments below.

On a somewhat related note, I finally found what I’ve been searching for. It’s what this next year will be all about:

Carnegie Mellon Commencement 08 052

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11 Comments

  1. angie

    Ahh you found one!

    To be honest, Cincy is nice, but it also made me realize how much I like Austin too. I think it just takes a while (let’s see five years in my case) to realize how much what we’ve taken for granted in a city.

  2. diane

    there’s a fair amount of bubble tea in seattle but they’re too sugary(made from powders). plus the teahouse joints are filled with bubbly college students (which reminds me of tapioca express in houston) … so i’d rather go to a chill coffeehouse :).

    ps: “think of my life has having milestones”–> “think of my life as having milestones”

  3. @Angie-
    Yep! SO HAPPY.

    I think it also has to do with what you grow comfortable with, what you start to feel like belongs to you. So if we were in reversed roles (me in Austin, you in Cincy) I think it would still develop similarly. (I won’t say exactly the same, of course.)

    @Diane-
    Thanks for the catch! And hey, I’ll take sugary over nothing. :P (Especially because I don’t drink coffee.)

  4. Ericka

    hellooo! so i kind of stumbled on to your site when i looked up “bubble tea” and “seattle” and somehow diane’s comment showed up as one of the links hahaha. (by the way, i’ll have to tell her there is a good tea place called shinkos that uses real tea!) anyways, im glad to see you’re liking cincinnati! hope to see you sometime at one of those houston reunions. =)

  5. Heeeey! What are you doing in Seattle? I thought you were in NY…

    Have fun with Diane! (Send me bubble tea?) And yeah, hopefully we can meet up in Houston. I’ll be back over July 4th! Is anyone doing anything then?

  6. Ericka

    ahahaha I’m working in seattle for the summer in a lab at Fred Hutch. (Kevin is also here) Soooo I will be going back to NY in two months. =)

    Hmmm. July 4th. you should eat some bbq!!! sigh. nobody makes bbq like texas.

  7. Cool beans. :)

    Haha, true that!

  8. Marianne

    Hey, in case you haven’t found it yet, you can get bubble tea at Tea N’ Bowl on McMillan St. next door to Maki Express.

  9. Ooo, thanks Marianne! I haven’t heard of that place, but it’s close to where I work. Thank you!!

  10. UPDATE: I went to Tea N Bowl, and I loved the scallion pancakes and the bubble tea! Best bubble tea I’ve had here so far, and the pancakes were quite good. I’m looking forward to trying the rest of the menu. The owners were also very sweet. :)

  11. UPDATE #2: You can also get good bubble tea (and snacky foods) at Essencha Tea House on Madison.

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