3 (3-0) and out

Nick Baker

It is Sunday afternoon, and it has now been about 94 hours since I touched down in what people affectionately refer to as “The Yo.”

Youngstown is a place that seems to exist as its own microcosm, exempt from the normal ways the rest of society operates.

I could not even begin to count the number of times someone has off-handedly told me that he or she was not concerned with being pulled over in Youngstown because the cops have bigger concerns than some drunken white kids in a nice-looking car.

I can map out the spots around town that sold cigarettes to me while I was in high school, and there is definitely no shortage.

There is a nice little dive bar on the east side, which strangely has evolved into quite the hipster joint, that has served me since I was 18. I meandered to the end of the bar nearest the TV featuring the Cavaliers game and was met with the thick smell of cigar smoke.

One of the owners yelled at a woman as she lit a smoke, reminding her that there is no smoking indoors in Ohio. After that, he let out the bellowing, cackling laugh of a lifelong smoker, put up both middle fingers directed at no one in particular and fired up his stogie.

I have friends with Youngstown tattoos and various items featuring “330” or something of the sort. It is an underdog city with a back-against-the-wall sense of pride, but it is a sense of pride that I have never entirely shared.

I mean, it’s not so great. There, I said it.

It is a place that gives me no sense of progress. Not the people, not the place.

It is a place that feels like it is constantly dragging.

Back in 2005 the city unveiled its Youngstown 2010 plan, with goals of bringing about a “cleaner, greener and better planned and organized Youngstown.”

Well, I have spent a decent amount of time there since graduating high school in 2006, but the only growth I can point to are more bars.

I also have friends who have gotten as far away from this place as possible, and they could not be happier being away. And there are times when I could not be more jealous.

I know it is never really cool to be down on your hometown. I will always hold Youngstown in a special place, but I’m starting to think it would serve as a better memory than a reality.

Sometimes the only way anyone can grow is to get away. The Columbus Dispatch reported in June that 88 percent of native Ohioan college students claim to have pride in this state, yet half of that 88 percent plans to bounce after graduation.

Ohio will inevitably see my departure and has already seen or will eventually see the same from my brothers, my cousins and my friends, and I can assure you it is not just college graduates getting out of here. I mean, where is anyone going to work? I guess they can keep opening bars..

Thanks for the memories, Youngstown. But I’m out, and it is futile to try to convince me otherwise. You’ve been convincing me for almost 22 years.

Nick Baker is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]