Seven Years, One Night

Posted on 18 October 2011

September 29 marked seven years since I moved to Ohio. I’m not sure why the exact date always stuck with me, but it has. While growing up in Lancaster, PA, is a big part of who I am, sometimes I forget I’m not originally from the Cleveland area. That was never more true than last Friday night at the Ohioana Awards.

Peter and I drove down to Columbus on Friday all set for an evening of books and celebration. Once we arrived, we did a quick lap of the reception space to check out the food and the wine table. I was still planning to forgo any wine, since I had to accept my award onstage and then participate in a panel discussion (never mind the drink I’d just had back at our hotel’s special happy hour event), but the winery guy overheard me mention a particular variety of wine that I enjoyed (mistake number 1). I turned away from the table for several moments (mistake number 2) to chat with someone, and when I turned around again, Peter was holding two glasses of wine. Two large, very full glasses of wine. Apparently the winery employee made the call that I needed a drink. Well. Who am I to argue with a wine industry professional?

I took my barrel of wine and made it about ten steps before I ran into Tricia Springstubb, who greeted me with a cheery, “I thought you said you weren’t going to drink!


Wine or no wine, the evening was absolutely fantastic. Everyone was gracious and kind and eager to discuss writing and books. I accepted my grant without falling over and listened with a bit of envy to Anthony Doerr’s beautiful acceptance speech (he was unable to attend the event, but his mother accepted his fiction award and read his prepared comments). Doerr won the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant in 2000. I have some ridiculously big shoes to fill.

At the panel discussion, I tried not to think about the fact that I had somehow ended up on a stage with such accomplished authors. I also tried not to play hot potato too much with the microphone. It all went fine, perhaps in part because I didn’t actually finish that half gallon glass of wine. Listening to the other writers was worth the entire drive down to Columbus. I even got a bag of swag — including an Ohioana mug, notecards, and copies of Ohioana Quarterly (more on that later this week).

I truly can’t express how impressed I was with the entire evening and everyone I met. I feel so supported by Ohioana, like I gained an entire cheerleading section overnight. The event also reinforced my pride in being an Ohio writer. This Lakewood Patch article calls me “all-Ohio” and after Friday night, I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t grow up in Ohio, true, but after living and writing here for seven years I can say that’s exactly what I am — an Ohio writer. And right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Where are you from, and where are you going?

9 responses to Seven Years, One Night

  • Tricia says:

    Clinking champagne glasses with you was one of the most fun moments of the night!

  • Downith says:

    “Well. Who am I to argue with a wine industry professional?”


    Sounds like it was a wonderful night. And congratulations again on the grant.

  • Averil Dean says:

    What a lovely evening. You deserve that support, Laura, and we are all here to make sure you get it.

    Congratulations! You wear it well.

  • Lyra says:

    What a wonderful thing, and God Bless the man with the fishbowl of wine.
    Now, you Ohio writer, make them proud!

  • lisahgolden says:

    It’s great to see that photo of you sitting among the other writers! I read Anthony Doerr’s bio. Wow! And you’re in that company, Laura! Deservedly so.

    P.S. I grew up on the other side of Ohio in Indiana, near Cincinnati. That’s where I’m from. Where I’m going seems wide open.

  • As a fellow Ohioan, I’m so proud of you!

  • Dawn. says:

    Wow, congratulations! I’m also all-Ohio (born and raised), but I’d never heard of Ohioana, so thank you for the introduction. I can’t wait to read Living Arrangements now. :)

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