#HomeGrownStories – Sarah Porto

Sarah Porto, a Troy native, has recently moved back to Miami County. She and her husband, Tom, a Tipp City native, lived in Columbus for thirteen years. Sarah and Tom are happy to be raising their young family in the community they grew up in. Sarah is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. She enjoys incorporating faith and spirituality into sessions for interested clients.

On growing up in Miami County:
My husband, Tom, and I both grew up in Miami County. I’m from Troy and he’s from Tipp City. We started dating so young, we didn’t even have our licenses! It’s a good thing Troy and Tipp have such fun walkable downtowns because that was the only way we could go on dates. In fact, our first date was to get “kiddie cocktails” aka Shirley Temples at Paddy’s in Tipp City. We loved that place then and we love its new version, Harrison’s, now. Both of our families moved here decades ago to start their careers. My family grew up in Darke County and Tom’s family is from Iowa. Both families had opportunities to work elsewhere but I’m so glad they came here and stayed. I can’t imagine how different my life would look now had I not been born and raised in Miami County.

On moving back home to Miami County:
I loved this town and always hoped to move back. Tom and I both went to Ohio State and ended up staying in Columbus for 13 years. We returned here a year ago. The whole time we lived in Columbus, I would try to find a town like Troy that I could adopt if we were to stay in Columbus. I never did find that town [laughs]. Which is why we’re back! It was fun living in a bigger city in our twenties and we appreciate all the opportunities that gave us. But the first day we brought our baby son Luca home from the hospital, we knew we wanted to be “home.” It took a few more years and another baby to help us work up the courage to make a big move. But we are glad we did!

On reconnecting with familiar places and seeing how the area has grown:

My favorite author Scott Russel Sanders captures it perfectly, in his book Staying Put.

One’s native ground is the place where, since before you had words for such knowledge, you have known the smells, seasons, birds, and beasts, human voices, houses, ways of working, lay of the land, quality of life. It is the landscape you learn before you retreat inside the illusion of your skin. You may love the place if you flourished there or hate the place if you suffered there. But love it or hate it, you cannot shake free. Even if you move to the antipodes, even If you become intimate with new landscapes, you will still bear the impression of that first ground.

Like Sanders, I always carried that impression of this area with me and compared everything else I saw to it. I could never shake free from it. I always joked that I never changed my (937) cell number because I knew I would be back. In many respects, moving home has felt so right. We love the simpler pace and the reconnection with our roots.

There is something magical about raising your children where you were raised. There are aspects we miss from living in a bigger city but Miami County is an exciting place as it grows and evolves. This was a great place to grow up and there are some wonderful years ahead here too.

Her Troy dining recommendations:
Since we are in “family mode” right now with a toddler and a baby, dining out has to be fast and family friendly. That is why we love Tokyo Peking. They are so kind to our children, the food is affordable and good, and it’s in a fun location in downtown Troy. We enjoy making an evening of it! We have dinner and walk through the square afterward. We often add a stop at Ducky’s for ice cream to end the night.

J’s cuisine is another favorite. They have fresh Chinese food and are great for take-out. It’s a real convenience for families with young children. Outside of Troy, we love Buffalo Jack’s in Covington. It is such an authentic place with a real local feel. There are so many food options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My kids, of course, love all the life-sized animals on display!

Her favorite dishes to enjoy in Troy:
Because we’re in family mode, we cook a lot of our meals at home. But with all the local food businesses and farms nearby, we’re not complaining! My favorite local meal right now is breakfast. We get bacon from Troy Meat Shop (making sure to grab some other items to grill out later that night). From Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company we pick up raisin walnut bread. From Winans Chocolates + Coffees we get Highlander Grogg. Summer is a great time to hit up the Downtown Troy Farmers Market to pick up some supplies and run into friends. All these places are within walking distance. It makes for a fun, family-friendly Saturday morning!

What makes dining in Troy great:
I love the social aspect. You can’t go anywhere in Troy without running into someone you know. Most meals out evolve into an impromptu gathering with someone. That includes the business owners and staff too. Everyone enjoys catching up on each other’s lives and offering support.

What she loves most about Miami County:
The sense of community is amazing. Intergenerational too. I’ve never seen a town where people of all ages interacted quite like they do here. One weekend, when I was home from college, I brought my friends who played in a band called The Floorwalkers. They put on a concert at Prouty Plaza and the crowd support was amazing. 8-year-olds to 88-year-olds were all there together enjoying the music. There was a genuine joy and sense of community and age wasn’t even a factor. I remember commenting to my husband that this town was something special!

Miami County loves the Floorwalkers! Their next visit will be for Troy’s Rock The Bike Music Fest, Sept 15 & 16, 2017 where they will headline Friday Night! Find out more about that event HERE.

I felt this intergenerational connection growing up here too. This town helped raise me. The kind women at Bakehouse Bread who gave me my first job as a high schooler. They taught me how to work hard. The musicians who played at Leaf and Vine and The Hotel Gallery and who let me perform with them, gave me a sense of confidence as a young musician and even more so, a feeling of belonging. The older members of my childhood church who taught me all about faith… the list goes on and on. I felt so supported here growing up and have experienced that moving back too. As an adult, I have found all kinds of encouragement to help me grow my business, raise my family, and find community here.

How her community inspires her:
The farmland is beautiful here and the access to nature is such a gift. When we moved back here, we rented a farmhouse on 83 acres. It was such a change from our 1/8 of an acre in Columbus! It has been so healing and peaceful after the busy years in a city. I couldn’t believe how much fun a person could have with some land and nature to explore.

Sometimes I complain about the slightly more limited options of “things” to do back here versus a big city. I’ve realized that having so many “things” to do can be distracting. Reducing those distractions allows you to create your own simple, meaningful fun. You learn to connect with your friends and neighbors. You learn to appreciate the beauty that is right before you.

Her Miami County recommendations for out-of-town visitors:
Each downtown in Miami County has so much to offer! You have walkable access to coffee shops, restaurants, and stores.

Some of my favorite places to shop are Midwest Memories, Three Weird Sisters, and David Fair’s on the Square. Pachamama Market is a beautiful store that partners with women in third world countries. And Samozreme is an invaluable resource for all your child-raising needs. All these stores are run by people with integrity and knowledge about their product.

We have so many ways to get out into nature. We have an impressive park system with places to explore, events, and classes. The bike paths are so peaceful… my favorite stretch is the area off of the Tipp City Park that goes by the river.

Be sure to check out the events that go on downtown. My favorite is going to the Hotel Gallery on Friday nights to hear live music. There is always a lively crowd with people of all ages!

On her work:
I work as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Counseling is an effective tool for helping a people process life. It can also help someone become the best version of themselves that they can be. It is always a little intimidating to take that first step to ask for support. It often ends up being a healing and meaningful experience. If anyone is interested in seeking support in this way, they can find my information at sarahporto.wordpress.com.

Follow our storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.