Becoming Cleveland

Thursday, 19 August 2010

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.