Dear Coshocton, Ohio-
I remember how warm you seemed. Not in the traditional sense of the word, but in a way that evoked feelings of safety, comfort, and care. In a time before I knew the true meaning of red and blue, did not realize the depth of ideological division, and assumed that nothing existed beyond the eggshell walls of our town, you taught me the meaning of community. Perhaps you were a community to which I never fully belonged, or maybe I just never earned my place, but you are also a world from which I know I will never be apart.
Coshocton, you showed me the strength of caring for everyone, young and old. Your chipped-paint homes and run-down factories and aged population all represent a better time but possess the undying hope that this better time was only a state of mind which you never left behind.
I remember the trips to the library, where swarms of sticky-fingered children and their families listened to story time as I clambered to make conversation with people nine times my age, stumbling over my words and speaking with the staggering and lilting speech of one who has not yet learned what not to say and when not to say it.
Coshocton, you gave me the first memories I ever had, laughing with friends and sledding down hills, wandering around a house much too big for me, wonderfully satisfied with what life had provided and wishing for nothing more than to continue being happy.
I know I will always be indebted to you, and for that I apologize, for I will never return what you offered. But you are so much more than what I owe you or what you granted me. You are a community, a city, a history, a people, a tiny dot on a map of cornfields and flatlands and run-down highways, a little theater in a dilapidated strip mall, an annual fair in the midst of an ailing community, a possibility for revitalization at the hands of your now-grown youths, a piece of flypaper in a sea of mousetraps, you were a gift.
You are a gift.
Thanks for everything.