Hello (again) Portsmouth. It's good to be back.
After years of living and working in Dayton while my family and closest friends remained here in Portsmouth, it's nice to have that closeness again.
I know this is a cliche, but you truly don't know what you have until it's gone. And being away for all of these years has definitely made me appreciate those things that I, for so long, took for granted.
Sure, this area has had its fair share of bad luck and negativity, but despite those negatives, there are many positives here that are easy to take for granted when you live every moment in southern Ohio.
While working at the Portsmouth Daily Times in the late '90s and living on the corner of Sixth and Market streets, I was lucky enough to be able to take walks whenever I wanted along the Ohio River and enjoy the beauty of the rolling Kentucky hills or climb the levy along Market Street and traipse through the damp grass on warm summer evenings.
Some of you who know me from the past will remember that I played in the local bands Plaid Bone and Spagetty for years. These walks served as the inspiration for many of those song lyrics as well as a plethora of poems written and forgotten.
I also learned to appreciate the abundance of country roads in the area. I often missed the ability to jump in the car with my favorite CD and take a Sunday drive along Woods Ridge or through the unpaved roads of Shawnee State Forest at a moment's notice. I spent many a night in my youth driving around the seemingly endless maze of forest roads until I finally would emerge somewhere on U.S. 52, having only the stars to guide me east, back to my home.
I also missed Shawnee State University. Some of my fondest memories are of sitting in Massie Hall's hot classrooms, listening to the wisdom of some of my favorite professors.
Still, of all the things I miss, there is nothing I miss more than the people of this area. Now, I don't want to take anything away from the folks in larger cities like Dayton, but there is something about the hospitality and genuine friendliness of people here.
I have found that there is nothing more important than the people who have always been here for me when I needed them, especially my family and friends. As a kid, you tend to underestimate the importance of family and friends, but I just hope I've been half as good of a friend to them as they've been to me.
I hope I never again take for granted these things that are truly important, and as I settle back down in my hometown, I'm sure I'll find many more things to appreciate about southern Ohio.
Don Willis can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 242.