Last week, Adrienne and I went to Dayton, Ohio, to look at houses. Well, more specifically, we went to Xenia, Ohio, which is a small town outside of Dayton, to look at houses. We saw ten and are in the process of making a bid. We have a couple of back-ups, too, just in case. I won't say too much about the house until the bid is at least accepted.
(Unlike many people, apparently, we're not looking for a house to love. We have a list of specific criteria and when a house met most or all of those criterion, it became a house we would be willing to bid on. From that body of biddable houses, we simply selected the one we liked the most. We have a couple of safeties in case things go poorly with our first bid, even.)
The trip was . . . pretty much everything we wanted it to be. Even though Ohio is in the midst of a heat wave and the highs were only a couple degrees less than in Miami, the relative lack of humidity and the fact the evenings actually got cooler made the weather feel pretty perfect. I can't remember being uncomfortable because of the weather at any point of the trip.
Additionally, Xenia has almost no traffic . . . and after three years of driving in Miami, little traffic suits us just fine. Even in the middle of the day and during rush hour, the traffic went smoothly.
Going from Xenia to anywhere else means you drive down very quiet streets with rolling hills, with forests and fields. The landscape around Xenia is downright charming and pastoral. For Adrienne and I, this is a very good thing.
Even when we left the fairly rural confines of Xenia and went to Dayton - driving down interstates in "rush hour" traffic with considerable construction going on - it was a simple, straightforward drive without real difficulty (a little slowdown around one exchange). And leaving town, to get to the interstate needed to go to Indiana, we had to drive through downtown Dayton just after rush hour and, again, no real traffic. It was pretty awesome.
The biggest pleasure, for me, though, was how everyone was so goddamn friendly. They smiled and engaged in chit chat. They weren't sullen zombies robotically performing unpleasant tasks - and doing them poorly, at that. In other places, I have gone on (and on and on) about the culture of dismal service and work performance in Miami, so it was consistently pleasurable to do transactions in Ohio because things happened in such a snappy, polite way. The sudden and radical transformation that people undergo when they leave South Florida is profound and inexplicable . . . but real. So getting out of that is like coming into sunshine after going through a frozen and wet cave for a really long time. It's like magic.
This attitude seems to extend everywhere. So, at FIU, there are no department events. This is a change from UMO and UCSC where a couple of times a year, there'd be a barbecue around the 4th of July and a Christmas party. At FIU, the department doesn't fraternize. We were in Ohio for two days, but the department chair at Wright State University set up a cook out.
Our realtor is a great guy, too. Unlike the array of scam artists, high pressure sales people and incomptent dregs that constituted our foray into real estate in the Miami market - before we met our current realtor - he was competent and friendly. Not only do I like him, so far he's been good at his job, not only giving us trenchant advice about neighborhoods and houses, but girding himself for war as we prepare to make our bid - including reaching out to the other realtor to gauge the level of actual interest in selling. (A house being on the market, technically, but the sellers not being willing to sell is quite common. Apparently, it's hard to part with a house.)
In short, it was a great trip. We are very much looking forward to moving to Ohio. It appears that big city life isn't for us, but we're doing something to get out of it, so . . . Xenia, here we come!