148 Columbus, OH: Cuz

I lived in Columbus from age three to six, but it was much smaller then. Now, it was the largest city in Ohio and larger than Denver--or so said my cousin Tim who hosted me during my visit. He was a designer. Or a destroyer. "The first thing I try to do with anything is break it." He reasoned, "The tougher it is to break, the better designed it is."

When I asked my aunt Jean whether she thought people in Columbus were isolated, she said, "Yes, emotionally isolated." Then she said, "They're starting to put front porches back on houses that they pulled the porches off twenty years ago. People are beginning to realize again: that's where families meet; that's how communities are made."

Tim was a member of one of the only yacht clubs in Columbus. I hadn't been on a sailboat since high school, but, remembering how much Hopper enjoyed sailing, I accepted when he offered to take me on his boat. It seemed appropriate to do here, in the most famous of the many cities in the United States named for the Italian sailor who "discovered our country." I can see how it pleased Hopper to sail: the aloneness. But you also have to pay attention. Surveying the wind to calculate his tack, Tim warned me when we had to duck as the sail's bar crossed from one side to the other at head height. The experience overall was a little like a Hopper painting: quiet and isolating, but dire consequences could sneak up on you.

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