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  • "You just need to revise your expectations," they say. "Don't look at it as loss."

    They try to be helpful. They really do. The words make my skin crawl.

    Last week, I turned 38, and I may never drive again. In my life. Not far. Not with my vision blurring without warning and my eyes rolling around in my head. For the moment, at least, I have been advised against driving back to Ohio for my high school reunion.

    My expectations must have been too high.

    "It's only Ohio," they laugh in derision.

    "Consolation?" I wonder. "It's home or it was, the only home I have ever known."

    I grew up in southeastern Ohio, in the part of the state with rolling hills and soft southern accents. Appalachia. Football games and basketball stars. Swimming pools. Swing sets. Wally's Pizza and Kennedy's Bakery. Brighton's Ice Cream. Home.

    We didn't have much money when I was young and I grew to know and love the taste of government cheese. It didn't matter. Nobody had much money and even if they did, most of us had known each other since diapers. We didn't know enough to discriminate.

    My parents moved to the town, to the state, right before I was born and moved away by my second year in college, my dad first and years later, my mom. My ties, those of blood and money, disappeared, but my heart remained. It was the place I grew up. The place and the people helped make me who I was and who I am, and maybe it's only Ohio but it's the only home I've ever known.

    I have traveled a million miles in the two decades since we've all known each other. I have traveled thousands of miles in just the past week, and I rage in frustration that I could get to and around Frankfurt, Sri Lanka, and Dubai with greater ease than the place I was born.

    Frankfurt, Sri Lanka and Dubai took a lot out of me. I fell and I got up. I suffered a cold. Grew, learned, laughed and cried. I was scared. I was happy.

    I have been each of those things a lot in the past 20 years. I am a far more interesting person now than I was as a teen, but I've only been back three days. I went straight to work from the airport. I still haven't caught up on sleep, and I haven't caught up on my life.

    I need to sort out my prescription, have my liver tested, call the drug company, pharmacist, and neurologist, lather, rinse, repeat, and figure out whether or not insurance will pay for any of this.

    I need to figure out my travel insurance and get my cameras fixed. My lens. I need to sort through my pictures. Reply to a request for an interview from Wisconsin Public Radio. Train for a 60-mile charity walk and figure out whether I should see a doctor about my injured knee.

    I need to prepare for my trip to California, my dad's visit and the dog I'll soon be sitting. I need to get money to pay for the housecleaner. I need to clean up my unpacking explosion so the housecleaner can clean.

    I need to go to the bank, the post office and the grocery store. I need to eat something other than the granola bars and dry cereal I've been eating for three days and counting, and I need to have more of that something else in my house.

    I need to open my birthday presents.

    I need to stay home. I need to go home. I need to not have an incurable and debilitating disease that makes me reset my expectations and makes the getting there so much harder, that makes everything so much harder. No matter how much I do, it never seems to be enough and I feel pieces of myself scattering in the wind.

    "Don't look at it as loss," they say. "It's only Ohio."
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