Essays - Summer 2017

Goodbye to Westbrook Acres

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As a writer walks and muses, the world’s sorrows intrude upon the peaceful streets he will be leaving

Ronald Saunders/ Flickr; David Herbick

By Andrew Hudgins

June 5, 2017



October 20, 2015: Tomorrow Erin is having foot surgery to repair a humped-up middle toe deformed by girlhood dreams of being a ballerina. Fifteen years ago, the doctor straightened the toe by driving a 10-inch-long pin through the end of it and down the length of her foot. For years, Erin kept the bent and slightly bloody wire on her desk, until it disappeared, probably tossed by a housesitter who did not recognize it as the memento mori it was.

Because Erin won’t be able to walk the dogs with me for about six weeks, I’ll use the time to look more closely at the neighborhood we’ll soon be leaving. In the spring, I’ll retire from Ohio State, Erin and I will sell our Ohio house, and we’ll move to Tennessee, close to my family in Alabama and Georgia. I’ve lived in Ohio for 30 years, the last 15 in the safe and friendly enough environs of Westbrook Acres, yet I’ve never felt like an Ohioan, a Buckeye, a son of the Midwest. I wonder if I’ll miss it. This short diary is a chance to hold on to this expanse of days for a future in which I might need an Auld Lang Syne for my last months as an Ohioan in the final years of the Obama presidency.

October 22: The Columbus Dispatch says that last month was the warmest September on record. Because of what global warming means for the planet, I am perturbed to love this Indian summer so much. Is this what it feels like to be enamored of a shockingly beautiful woman who is slipping arsenic in your food and so far you’ve been relishing it?

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Andrew Hudgins is Humanities Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Ohio State University. His most recent books are The Joker: A Memoir and A Clown at Midnight.

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