Julie Coppens Is a Serial Boomerang

“I knew this was where I needed to be again, for now.”

NAME: Julie Coppens
AGE: 48
WHO IS SHE: Serial boomeranger, most recently living in Alaska; currently works as Educational Outreach Coordinator for Cincinnati Public Radio (she runs WVXU’s Democracy & Me project).

At what age did you leave Cincinnati, and when did you return?

I was born and raised on the west side, left in 1990 for college, came back for my first job, left in 1998 for another job, returned in 2008, left again in 2012, moved back in 2019. When in Cincinnati I’ve lived in White Oak, Clifton Gaslight, Over-the-Rhine near Music Hall, and now Pendleton, so a southeastern trajectory.

Why did you return?

The pattern has been that I leave when opportunity knocks (new job, relationship) and return when disaster strikes (divorce, downsizing, death). I’m currently in recovery mode, after losing my Alaskan husband to cancer in 2017 and coming back to help care for my mom at the end of her life; she passed away in February. My son was also starting high school and really wanted to get back to the School for Creative and Performing Arts after spending his early grades there.

Were you excited to return, or hesitant? A little of both?

Not excited per se, but grateful to have a good place to return to and siblings here who always have my back. I hated to leave Juneau. I still feel part of the special community up there. But I knew this was where I needed to be again, for now.

How has Cincinnati changed since you left?

There’s been a lot of displacement, a lot of unequal suffering, a deepening of the dividing lines. Or maybe this has always been our city, and I’m the one who’s changed.

How is it the same as before?

It’s still very clannish and still a city built more for cars than for people.

What keeps you here now?

I’m soul-searching around that question as we speak. The pandemic has really gotten in the way of reconnecting with family, rebuilding my Cincinnati friendships, and enjoying all the arts and culture here. But I’ll hang in and see how things go before plotting my next escape.

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