CORRECTION: Port Clinton does in fact have a bowling alley. It’s also on the outskirts next to my tech friendly coffee shop. Saw it as I took an alternate bike ride to “the office.”

Every year I visit my sister and her family in Port Clinton, Ohio at the end of July. Some of you may remember my description of the Port Clinton “Walleye Drop” several years ago. Michelle’s birthday is July 22 and it always falls right around the weekend of “Christmas in July” at Put-n-Bay. For those of you that do not have encyclopedic knowledge of all party islands across this fine nation, Put-n-Bay is a “village” encompassing a whopping 0.6 square miles of South Bass Island (to be honest, it actually is the whole island) about 15 miles off the coast of Ohio in the middle of Lake Erie. Around 200 people live on the island year round, but thousands of people visit it during the summer season to get drunk and act stupid (yes, of course we are going). Picture Bourbon street… on an island. In addition to the strip of bars and music venues, there is a winery, a crystal cave, all your typical water sports and people dart around on golf carts and bicycles. Each July there is a weekend where the entire island celebrates Christmas. Bars and shops are decorated and all the boats docked at the marina for the weekend are wrapped in twinkly lights and topped with blow-up snowmen and reindeer. Of course there are drunken Santas and elves wandering the island all weekend  in search of “naughty” ladies.

Essentially, all summer long there are people ready to cut loose, heading over to the island in their boats or on the big ferries that haul people to this fantasy island from Port Clinton every 30 minutes. Port Clinton is a small friendly town, just down the way from Sandusky, Ohio and Cedar Point, the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. It is also home of the world champion decoy carvers, who live right across the street from my sister!!

Home of the World Decoy Carving Champions!

Home of the World Decoy Carving Champions!

Now, aside from the wastoids shuffling through town to be ferried to debauchery island,  Port Clinton is your typical small town environment. There is gossip, there is a Frisch’s Big Boy, there is a local bar (that also happens to be the yacht club) that regulars meet up in daily, there are local businesses, there’s no gym, bowling alley or movie theater. When I asked the local coffee shop if they had internet, I was met with borderline hostility. Her word’s said, “sometimes if you are lucky you can steal it from across the street, but no, we do not have internet here.” But her eyes said, “let me tell you where you can stick your information super highway.” I was able to ride my bike a few extra miles to the “new” coffee shop on the outskirts of town. They met my technological snobbishness with open arms. They are bleeding edge.

Tech and shopping challenges aside, there is something about this type of town that just allows you to exhale a little more. When you roll into the bar at night, you aren’t competing with rail thin women in designer miniskirts with $2000 bags purchased via trust fund. Riding your bike down the main street along the coast of the great lakes brings the same exhilarating feeling as walking the beach in Mexico, without the sweltering heat and wild dogs.  The sound of birds are the calming coo of seagulls rather than the squawk of grackles fighting over an abandoned tortilla chip.  I wasn’t even the least bit ashamed letting it all hang out in a bikini next to the yacht club pool yesterday and my niece and nephew are going to have an awesome childhood growing up here. Could I live here permanently as a single woman in her 30s? No, but it sure is a nice place to visit.

In fact, my sister often, somewhat seriously, suggests that I should move out here. While we were in Mexico in May, I finally said, if she could find five eligible men that actually fit the parameters of someone I would consider dating, I am willing to go out on five dates while I am in Ohio this summer. Her goal being that I fall helplessly in love and move here to be with the man of my dreams (sounds like me, right?). My goal being to prove that me moving out here would mean a life of loneliness. She set out to get the dates set up. I am here now. There are no dates.

The day I got in, I went straight to a graduation party in Cleveland for my cousin. I love our family get-togethers. We are fun. …and unapologetically rough around the edges. As I sat there guzzling my 5th cup of wine from a plastic Dixie cup, I began thinking about a conversation I had the other night with a friend of mine. I was telling him how, spending the last four years in Austin, I have been all too often exposed to the people who are “Dallas”. We are talking about the perfectly accessorized, perfectly tan, perfectly lip-sticked, carry a book on your head and never trip over your 3 inch heels ladies. I explained that no matter how hard I try… I will never ever be able to be so put together. I’m a klutz and I leave things, people and chaos in my wake pretty much everywhere I go. I can spend an hour putting on make-up or coifing my hair, but I will still look like a hot mess 30 minutes later. I will always have a portion of my dinner down the front of my shirt. I will rarely turn down an offer for a free shot. I don’t glisten, I sweat. I may be able to temper my language, but I am a firm believer that every once in a while, an F-bomb is just the most appropriate way to convey my point. I’ve tried to be classy, and failed. It’s just not in me. And I finally understand why. I AM FROM OHIO for God’s sake! And I am ok with that. In fact, I am proud of it. I can’t stand being around people who are 100 percent put together. In my experience, those are the people who are a big bag of crazy beneath that thin layer of perfection. We are real. What you see, is what you get. And as I often do, I am going to go ahead and hazard that there are people out there that find my clumsiness and occasional lack of tact endearing. It’s not like you can’t dress me up and take me out someplace nice without offending people. I clean up alright and I enjoy nice clothes, nice places, nice food and drink. But, you will not find me at a baseball game with heels and a clutch. You will find me in the dog pound with a flask and a bone.

As I arrived at the graduation party, it didn’t take long for the conversation to focus on my dating situation. It’s my fault, I frequently expose myself. My Mom was talking about setting me up with another of her friend’s sons (insert eye roll), who recently separated from a long time love, and my aunt commented on how I could be the rebound girl. To this I noted that I am typically the girl who guys date before they move on to someone who they can commit to (I’m not sure if I should be flattered or offended by this, but in Jen warped mind fashion, I’m gonna go ahead and take it as a compliment). My dad noted that this makes me the “prebound” girl. Good call Pops!

Off to explore more Port Clinton lifestyle. I just looked up from my computer to see seven ladies in their 60s ordering at the counter. All of them in capris. I think that is the local uniform…