ethereal skies open my eyes

Like many other small town folk, as well as popular movie tropes, it has always been my dream to get out of my small, Midwestern town. There was no way that I could live a magical life of meaning in a place where the fun thing to do was to party. In fact, boredom, among other things, were one of the reasons that I strayed into the upside down world of alcohol addiction.

It wasn’t until getting sober, and moving to the Cincinnati area, that I started to realize I had made a grave mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Cincinnati. It’s a beautiful city, and there was plenty to do. We were also on the Kentucky side, and pretty close to the country ourselves. But the crazy traffic, constant barrage of people and overall heightened energy was a bit much for me. My hometown, however, was exactly the place we wanted to settle down with kids. So what was it, exactly, that I was looking for?

When the pandemic hit, our daughter had just been born. And we found ourselves locked in a small, two bedroom apartment with two small children. It was…a lot…to say the least. We were on the third floor, and packing up to go spend time outside was a chore. These extenuating circumstances led to us making the move back to our hometown. The vicinity to family was something that we needed at that time. I have to say, we have no regrets about it.

Now that we are two years into this pandemic, and both of our kids are at that *fun* toddler stage, we had to evaluate where we wanted to settle down for sure.

I have spent a lot of time since moving back trying to connect to both my ancestry and my inner child. I haven’t actually lived in this area in quite some time, and I found comfort in driving to familiar places from my childhood — my kids fall asleep easy in the car, so I find myself driving quite a bit.

It was driving on the back roads near my childhood home, heading somewhere I don’t particularly remember, that the skies sent me the loveliest of messages. The clouds had a pinkish hue to the, and they were billowy and stacked high into two towers that perfectly framed the highway I was driving on. It looked as though I was driving towards an ethereal doorway in the sky. It took my breath away.

I remembered being a child, heading back from visiting family in a bigger city, and being excited for the rolling cornfields. The big, open sky that you could see for miles in every direction, the smell of fresh air. I remembered, suddenly, that watching the sky, and the clouds, while driving along these flatlands as a kid was one of my favorite past times. There was little else to do in the backseat of the car in the early 90s.

I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten the feeling of comfort I found during these experiences as a child. I especially couldn’t believe the visceral feelings I was having in reaction to them now — all because of some clouds! It was crazy!

But I found myself driving towards this area more and more. Every time that my kids refused to nap in their cribs, we would pack up in the car, grab some coffee, and drive towards those big, open skies. I am starting to practice nephelomancy, or cloud scrying. I find myself dreaming of flat country and painted skies. And, we are looking to make this area our home.

I’ll be the first to admit that we were surprised by the fact that small town life seemed to be the answer, but we are both at peace with it. I am excited to see where these realizations take my practice. I am realizing that there is beauty in the environment I always hated, and I am trying to connect to a land I have rejected for so long.

During our home search, we are trying to keep an open mind, and I am comforted by the idea of my kids having a similar childhood to mine. I know that there is no way to recreate small town living in the 90s for them, and my childhood was far from perfect. But I hope to help them find a bit more happiness in small town life. There is a tinge of sadness for me now, thinking back to my obliviousness to the beauty of a small, Midwestern town back then.

I look back now, and trying to remember the overwhelming feeling of comfort, and magic that I felt in the air. I wish I could’ve bottled it up for the adult me, because I know part of it had to do with the time, and that things will never quite be the same. But, I think that we sometimes look back on the past with rose-coloured glasses. So I will just be content looking for little sparks of magic in my everyday life, driving this flat country with my head in the clouds.

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