When I moved here from New Jersey, the plan was to stay for 6 months then head to Philly… that was nearly a decade ago. Life happened and I ended up stuck, between a rock and a gem city. I have spent many nights in the last 10 years dreaming about the day I could leave this town. But since moving into a new apartment in the Oregon District, something truly unexpected happened- I found myself falling in love with Dayton, Ohio.
As I walked from brewery to brewery, soaked in the summer sun on various patios, and bashed on the unique & eclectic cuisine surrounded by some of the best friends I have ever had, it occurred to me that perhaps I had been missing out all those years.
My first day as a resident began with a Uhaul and ended with a shot at a Tiki bar with good friends and beautiful strangers. I watched the Kentucky derby at the Trolley Stop, then drank some local beers at Warped Wing. Ermal’s- all day, err day. Then we hit the Dub Pub and sat by the fire on the rooftop patio, watching the sun set over our district. From there we headed to Tumbleweed, where we leaned over the New Orleans style balcony and watched the diverse crowds of people get their Saturday night started. It was over to Ned Peppers after that to sit on bar stools that swing from the ceiling and the opportunity to have a cocktail with sand beneath my feet.
And then, just before coherence left me, I walked three blocks home and was in bed before the spins started. CRUSHED IT. I woke up the next morning and thought to myself, maybe this is right where I belong. And it had been quite a while since I felt like I was anywhere near that…..
I moved to NJ when I was 11 after being raised in a suburb of Cincinnati (hence my die hard passion for the Bengals and Reds). I tell people I grew up in NJ because I really did. From 11 – 22 years old, that is when I became who I am. Because of this East Coast lifestyle, Dayton never seemed like it suited me. I felt socially outcast here, but in hindsight it might have been my own doing. I never really gave this city a chance to impress me because I had a preconceived notion of how people from the Midwest viewed people like me. I can’t say I was completely wrong, but I certainly wasn’t completely right.
The Oregon District, which is becoming known for its affiliation with hipsters, offers so much more than that, just like the city around it does. There are four local breweries in walking distance from my porch- how many people in a small town can say that? Often times I end up eating a jar of pickles on my couch because deciding which amazing restaurant to eat at is just so challenging (Salar? Lily’s? Wheat Penny? Olive? I JUST DON’T KNOW!) And I have never brunched so hard in my life. Even the food trucks alone are worth the late night trip down 5th street. I get home from work at 6 PM on Friday and return at 8 AM on Monday- at no time in between do I operate my vehicle- yet I have been on amazing pub crawls, made new friends at block parties, and been exposed to exceptional local music and art.
I have made a ton of mistakes in my life. I have wasted opportunities and it is safe to say that my life at 32 years old is absolutely not what I thought it would be. One thing I did right, though, is not make an irrational decision to bail on Dayton before I got to know it… Look at what I would have missed.