At this point in my life, I can better feel the lyrics. After having lived away from my home for the sum total of more than 6 years, I more closely feel the pain that would be present at never even having seen Ohio for "seven long years." I'm beginning to understand what my band director Eric Aho meant when he said that we were too young to fully understand how to express passion in music for lack of years.
I've been listening to various recordings, and I find it interesting that the European singers have all sung a version focusing on love for a woman.
I alternatively identify with the version of this folk song that is about longing for the place that made me.