Becoming Cleveland

The longer I spend in Cleve­land, the more like Cleve­land I become. This first man­i­fest­ed itself years ago, when I start­ed append­ing “or what­ev­er” to the end of my con­ver­sa­tions. Hav­ing suc­cess­ful­ly bro­ken myself of that habit, I’ve now noticed that I’ve inter­nal­ized, to some extent, the Cleve­land ten­den­cy to find things to com­plain about, espe­cial­ly if I’m hav­ing a good time, or what­ev­er.

I some­times feel that a typ­i­cal Cleve­lander would com­plain to the God that Saint Peter didn’t open the Pearly Gates fast enough. (Choos­ing to make that a Catholic ref­er­ence instead of a hick ref­er­ence is anoth­er sign of my grow­ing Cleve­landesque­ness).

I first noticed this on the day of the Drag­on Boat Fes­ti­val (and in the ensu­ing post). It was a great time, but I was all, like, focus­ing on hav­ing to dri­ve all over since the bridges were out of ser­vice, get­ting a splin­ter, no first aid kit, or what­ev­er. Got­ta cut that out, because neg­a­tiv­i­ty is the only thing I know that can sur­vive by feed­ing off itself.

Cleve­land has changed me in oth­er ways, I’m much more cos­mopoli­tan than I was when I moved here as a fresh, real-world-igno­rant, col­lege grad back in Novem­ber of 2003. By cos­mopoli­tan I mean, eager to seek out and appre­ci­ate the oth­er cul­tures in what has become my town; less igno­rant about gay folks, Jew folks, black folks, His­pan­ic folks, and more aware of how dif­fer­ent sorts of pol­i­tics are immersed in every aspect of dai­ly life, learn­ing to choose my bat­tles, how to bat­tle, how to nav­i­gate with­out tak­ing sides, how to treat women, what con­fi­dence means (more on that lat­er), how to take a metaphor­i­cal punch and keep on truckin’.

Basi­cal­ly, Cleve­land took the raw stock of my upbring­ing and edu­ca­tion, smithed it, tem­pered it and gave me what­ev­er I have that approx­i­mates an edge.

This has been a year of intro­spec­tion for me, and as I con­tin­ue to become Cleve­land, I’m sure there are aspects of liv­ing here that I’ll reject as equal­ly as cer­tain parts of speech and atti­tudes, but few­er things are more Cleve­land than becom­ing Cleve­land on your own terms.

Or what­ev­er.

2 Replies

  • Becom­ing Cleve­land might be bet­ter than becom­ing a big city like Chica­go or New York. Cleve­land prob­a­bly fits every­one- and every­one fits Cleve­land. And then one day you’re wear­ing your Cleve­land and some­one who’s been wear­ing a San Fran­cis­co comes up to you and you’re all like,

    hey, nice San Fran­cis­co!”

    and they’re all like, “Psh­hh… what­ev­er”.

    And you’re like, “Fine, be that way, douche-bag.”

    And then you go home and think about how that per­son with their fan­cy San Fran­cis­co didn’t seem to give two ess­es for your Cleve­land or even for their San Fran­cis­co and you think maybe you should change your city because what is Cleve­land real­ly doing for you any­way? except mak­ing you look at people’s Chica­goes and Los Ange­le­ses and won­der­ing what it feels like to have LA all rub­bing on your skin and stuff mak­ing you feel all sexy and per­verse­ly alpha like some kind of sleazy Robert Evans.

    But you should prob­a­bly think about get­ting a Chica­go because it’s more like a jean jack­et like the one you wore in High School when you were try­ing to hang out with all the hessiers and draw­ing the zoso sign on your brown paper bag book cov­er sit­ting in Home Ec watch­ing them smoke pot under the sink while you were try­ing to make blue­ber­ry muffins, or what­ev­er.

    Yeah. About five years ago I bought this new hat called a Tremont. It’s kin­da cool because it has enough traf­fic on the streets on Fri­day night that you kin­da feel like you’re wear­ing those Wick­er Park shoes you get in Chica­go? Yeah, those ones. Except they’re not plat­form shoes, they’re just cool enough to make you feel good about your­self for a few years.

    Then you’ll prob­a­bly go back to wear­ing Tee-shirts and jeans and cheap-ass shoes you buy at the strip mall and sit on a captain’s chair in your back yard in front of a big fire with your dog and fam­i­ly some­where in Colum­bia Sta­tion, or what­ev­er.

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