Monday, March 16, 2009

The Places I Remember: Columbus, Cleveland and Chicago

A post I decided to write in response to Flaky Genius's comment referring to Cleveland...

One could easily deduce that I have an affinity for cities whose names begin with "C". And, perhaps they would be correct, but the debate lies in the fact that I grew up in Ohio and all the decent cities are named with "C"'s for whatever reason. While I never made it to Cincinnati to do more than eat some Skyline Chili, I hear it's a great town as well, but our story begins in Columbus.


The closest city to my hometown. I moved there after suffering 22 years worth of youth, high school, and college in a small town a little south. It was my first taste at life on my own, and therefore it cannot be left out of the list even though I originally intended to only write about Cleveland and Chicago.

Columbus for me was a starting point, a place full of OSU fans and strip malls. Decent restaurants and short North Arts District kept me entertained, for the most part. The problem was ( no offense to anyone there now) I just kept running into the same person in different form over and over again, and I got bored. Everyone seemed to be a carbon copy of each other and while I ended up with a job I enjoyed and an apartment I loved, I knew if I didn't leave, I never would. Despite the shopping choices and a few choice restaurants (The Columbus Brewing Company) Columbus was just too much like home.


I loved, and will always love Cleveland. It has worked its way into my heart where it will always remain. Cleveland is one of those great art cities, which happen to be the type I adore. They offer a world class art museum, which, though i hate to admit it, out-ranks the Chicago Institute. Their symphony is spectacular, and the Fourth of July show outside is a can't miss occasion. My experiences in Coventry remain some of my favorite memories. The (old) Grog Shop, Euclid Tavern and Peabody's some of my favorite venues. The architecture of the city is wonderful, though admittedly dirty. I used to feel a sense of pure peace when driving past that skyline. The people I met and loved and admire who lived in or still reside in Cleveland are among my favorite people. Real people, with heart and soul and an unshakable moral sense. Music is a part of the culture, Art a part of it's heart, History a part of the everyday life. Where else can you find such loyal baseball fans, block parties and fantastic dining? As mentioned before Sushi Rock is delicious, but lets not forget Little Italy and the feast of the Assumption, or really any local establishment. ( the Rush Inn, the Mad Greek ( not the chain, may not exist anymore), The Winking Lizard etc...)

So, why did I leave? Cleveland is great, but it is having a hard time sustaining itself and the livelihood of it's citizens. It is dirty, and poor and Lake Erie may be a bio hazard. And, I just knew, in my heart that I had already done almost everything I was ever going to do there. I needed to move on to a place where I could find what I loved about Cleveland, but also offered me additional choices and more experiences, enough that I couldn't run out for the rest of my life. And, that is why I ended up in Chicago.


The things I love about Cleveland are still here. Music, restaurants, art, the lake (a cleaner one), good people with heart and character, crazy baseball fans, historical reference and, a better opportunity to grow, and explore professionally, educationally and personally. I haven't experienced it all, and I know I will never be able to, and that is why I finally feel at home. Chicago isn't better necessarily, it's just a better fit for me. And, to be perfectly honest, I have always known I was meant to be here. I talked Dave into moving here knowing that he too enjoyed the same qualities of Cleveland I did, and that together we could forge a life here with a better opportunity for both of us to sustain ourselves, each other and family. So far, so good I think. Both of us have grown so much in the past 2 years ( yes, it's almost 2 years here already!) Thank you Chicago!


Dave said...

Pacers. Big Fun. John's Diner. Rush Inn. Dante's Pizza.

The Critic said...

Does this mean at some point in your future you will be moving on to Cambridge, England?

flaky genius said...

Yay! More shout outs. Maybe instead of using "The poor man's Chicago" as our new slogan, Cleveland could use, "We're no Chicago, but we're O.K." I think both cities will grow and flourish when the West really starts to feel the drought, and then finally, finally, Cleveland will make its comeback and get some bragging rights. Or LeBron will lead us back from the brink with his mad basketball skills. Or the Rock-n-Roll Induction will come back home to Cleveland and bring us fame and glory. (Okay, half of that already happened.) To live in Cleveland means to have hope. We're a city of dreamers.

How about this one, "If you think we're dirty, visit Detroit"?

Anyway, I love Chicago too and am looking forward to making a visit before the end of the summer. Just a warning. And when Barack's supertrain from Cleveland to Chicago is complete and we can make that journey in like three hours, watch out, you will have constant visitors from the Cleve.

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