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One of the earliest assignments of my freshman frontiers course, Creative Nonfiction, was to write a piece about a place. Any place. As long as we'd been there, we were free to write about it. Of course this launched me into total panic. Every book of creative writing stresses the importance of writing about what you know about. But what places did I know about? I was not well-travelled, and my hometown was far from the exciting, glamorous places from which my classmates hailed. Unlike fabulous New York, or Chicago, or L.A., my hometown was barely capable of eliciting even a grunt of recognition from my peers. I didn't have to write about Youngstown, Ohio. I had travelled to other places, and any one of them could have made for an interesting topic. But I couldn't stop thinking about Youngstown, about my home. Being far from Youngstown forced me to consider it even more closely than I had on that long ago summer day when, still teetering on the cusp of adolescence, my sister first told me we lived in a shithole. Now, as well as then, I find that description insufficient. It's not that Youngstown isn't a shithole. It's just that Youngstown is so much more than a shithole. It's more than its skeletal buildings and its pockmarked roads. It's more than just a place of poverty or crime, or rust: It's a place of magic. It's my home.