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A Recent Transplant From Gotham City Adjusts to Life in Columbus, OH
Relocation can be a big change!
It’s been six months, but I think I’m finally starting to settle in.
Sure, there’s still a half-dozen moving boxes sitting in the corner that I need to finish unpacking, and I haven’t hung up all my framed pictures, but the new place is starting to feel like home. I’ve painted the bedroom, got most of my books up on the shelves, and I think I finally updated my address everywhere that I needed to. My new job is going well, and I’ve even managed to go on a few dates.
Oh, you want to know why I moved?
Well, you see, in the last couple of years, lots of people found cause to reassess their personal priorities, and for many of them—myself included—this manifested in a big move. I’d lived in Gotham City for most of my adult life, and though I’d once believed I’d never leave, here I am—building a new life for myself in Columbus, Ohio.
When I announced that I’d be moving, it came as a shock to many of the people closest to me.
How could you leave?, they’d ask.
Won’t you miss the big-city hustle and bustle?
You’re at the center of it all here in Gotham!
Can you even get a proper bagel in Ohio?
No, seriously, how can you physically leave, with all of the bridges and tunnels destroyed?
A few friends even suggested I consider a smaller move, like going across the river to Blüdhaven, or across the bay to Metropolis. You know, see if a minor change in scenery was all I needed, instead of completely uprooting my life.
In the end, though—despite the many things I loved about living in Gotham City—I found myself attracted to what Columbus had to offer: a lower cost of living, a recently-revitalized downtown with walkable, mixed-used developments, and the land-locked city’s inability to be physically isolated from the rest of the world by exploding key bridges and tunnels.
I think the move has really been good for me.
I bought a bike and started availing myself of the city’s extensive network of cycling trails. I’ve attended several Columbus Crew soccer games, joined a gym, and now that my body hasn’t been subject to any mind-altering nerve chemical attacks in a while, I’m sleeping much better.
I’m even thinking about rescuing a dog!
That’s not to say it hasn’t been an adjustment, though.
I hadn’t realized how much I’d become accustomed to the pace of life in Gotham. People like to joke about Gotham being a foreign country, but it truly is a place apart from the rest of the United States. People walk faster, talk faster, and just interact in a completely different way then they do here.
For example, I was strolling through a street festival recently in the city’s bustling, artsy Short North neighborhood. I was enjoying the fresh air, perusing the various stalls of artwork and handicrafts, and enjoying a delicious “Bahama Mama” sandwich from the Schmidt’s Sausage Haus truck, when a man stood up with a megaphone and asked if he could have everyone’s attention. Naturally, I assumed that he was about to announce that he was in possession of a nuclear weapon and would demand that control of the streets be turned over to the inmates from the local asylum. So, I did what I would normally do—I sucked the gold fillings out of my teeth, swallowed them, and made a bee-line for the nearest storm drain, hoping to find safe haven in the city’s underground network of sewers and tunnels for a few months until things blew over.
You know, the usual routine!
Well, I was halfway through the drain when the man began speaking, and that’s when I realized he was simply announcing a run for mayor. I crawled back out—still wary, but absolutely fascinated by his approach.
He looked so… I don’t know, comfortable? He was smiling, shaking hands, posing for pictures—he didn’t seem like he was afraid at all! I’m not used to seeing politicians look so at ease, but perhaps that’s because back in Gotham, five of our last six mayors have either been kidnapped, brainwashed, murdered or exploded.
It’s just a completely different culture here!
Now, to be sure, there are things that I do miss about Gotham. I loved the city’s sense of history, its unique mix of Piranesian-Gothic architecture, and its bustling nightlife. Columbus has some very nice restaurants and bars—I really enjoy trying out the wide range of vendors at the North Market, and sampling the many delicious craft beers at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing—but I’ve yet to find a massive underground industrial-techno music club that can hold a candle to Gotham’s Iceberg Lounge.
Also, the public transit in Gotham gets a bad rap—probably because of how often people are chased down by face-painted gangs on it, only to be saved at the last minute by a masked vigilante who seems to be working through some personal issues of his own, or how the elevated trains themselves are occasionally repurposed as weapons of mass destruction—but you can’t beat their speed and convenience. I’ve found that the COTA bus system here, while clean and safe, just doesn’t get me everywhere I need to go. I’m paying less in rent, yes, but some of that money’s going to have to go to buying a car.
Can I tell you what’s really weird, though?
I have to confess… occasionally, I’ve found myself missing the villains.
I know, I know—it sounds crazy! Don’t get me wrong, those villains were a large part of the reason why I left Gotham. You can only see a big civic event like the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony or police commissioner’s decoy funeral hijacked by Tommy-gun toting henchmen in clown makeup so many times before it starts to get a little tiresome, and you find yourself considering those “move to Ohio” billboards that have popped up around town.
After six months here, though, I’ve started to realize how much I’d come to appreciate them as part of what made Gotham feel so unique. Sure, it’s easier knowing that you can go to work, the park, or a sporting event without worrying about what a heartbroken scientist driven mad by his wife’s terminal illness, a deranged former district attorney, or the disfigured scion of a prominent local family who was abandoned at birth, set adrift in the sewers and grew up in a cavern under the zoo’s penguin exhibit might do.
But those guys really did give the city character.
It’s why every movie and TV show is set there, right? It’s why people move there. Gotham just had that “it” factor, even if “it” meant occasionally having to solve a seemingly-unsolvable riddle in order to stay alive.
A couple weeks ago, I got excited.
I was sitting at a local brewpub, enjoying a burger and fries and watching the Ohio State Buckeyes football team play their spring game on television. I haven’t been much into sports in recent years—the Gotham Knights’ stadium being blown up in the middle of a game really did put a damper on the local teams’ ability to attract free-agents—but everyone here is so football-mad, I figured, when in Rome, right?
Well, I was getting kinda bored, but then the camera panned to the front row of seats along the end zone, and I saw something that made me sit up bolt-straight on my barstool. Costumed henchmen. This was it, I thought. A supervillain was about to make a cinematically-grand entrance, kill the mayor, and announce their grand plan for remaking society in their twisted image. Finally, something familiar!
“Ugh, these a-holes again,” the bartender sighed.
“Oh, you know who they are?”, I asked, perhaps a bit too eagerly. “Who do they work for? Hugo Strange? The Black Mask? Ra’s Al-Ghul?”
“Ra’s Al-who? What are you talking about? No, they’re just these over-the-top football fans. That guy in the hat’s a real jackass. Went to a funeral he wasn’t even invited to and autographed the memorial.”
I slunk back down in on my stool.
I suppose it’s for the best, I thought. I’m safer here. I have a good job at a bank, a nice one-bedroom apartment and a standing invitation to join an adult kickball league. I’m happier, healthier, and I haven’t been on a hijacked ferry-boat once since I moved here.
But I’m just bored, y’know.
And now this?
Maybe I’ll become the Joker.
This town seems like it could use one.
—Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)
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