Cleveland is a city of grinders — a Land of loyal warriors. A city full of tough folks ready and able to take on tough tasks. A city with a Great Lake-sized heart.
The people of Cleveland are forever tied together by the city. It seems that the city imbues a tenacity for hustling, scrapping, and a resourceful ruggedness unlike any other place I have lived. You know a Cleveland person by their resigned resilience. You would be committing a grave error to mistake the genuine politeness of Clevelanders for an absence of ambition. Nice people never finish last in the Land — the nice people carry the place on their backs.
As I walked my parents around this place that has been home for me only briefly, I saw once again what makes this city so singular. From Public Square to the Q, the lakefront to Progressive Field (The Jake), from Happy Dog to Dive Bar, West 6th to East 4th — this so-called ‘Rust Belt flyover’ city punches well above its weight.
Clevelanders love their city with the passion of star-crossed lovers. They will bloody themselves to defend their city. They will talk about its many charms and features ceaselessly. They will not suffer foolish, presumptive critiques long. Northeast Ohio incubates either a wildly skewed perspective on reality or an ingrained, understandable defensiveness in response to cosmic injustices lobbed from the overcrowded coasts at this jewel along Lake Erie. Or maybe both.
The first time I had ever been to Cleveland was September 2014. I had know idea then that this place would shepherd me from student to adult and guide me through my first real job. I did not know the lessons I would learn here or the trials I would be put to in this city.
Since then, I have grown up a bit. I have learned how to live life like a Clevelander.
That is, I have learned to expect to take an unfair hit, but be prepared to hit back hard anyways both despite the tough luck and to spite it.
I have learned to love life — even and especially when it is a struggle because, as Cleveland has shown me, the value of our goals can be measured by the obstacles we must vault to achieve them.
That’s what makes this city special and invaluable. It is a place that forges people into doers, leaders, challengers, and try-hards. People who do not quit on tough times because tough times are part of their DNA.
I have gained so many close friends in this city. And I will never forget the simple joys they have afforded me.
I also lost a lot while I was here. I was sitting at my desk downtown when I found out my brother had died.
But it is the memories I have made in this city that will never fade.
I remember LeBron carrying the whole city against the Silicon Valley-engineered robots from Golden State.
I remember seeing people work hard through summer’s heat and winter’s bitter cold, but stay positive and hopeful.
I remember taking my Mom to a ball game and basking in the late-spring beauty of the city.
I remember many other golden moments floating in the back of my mind.
Cleveland sticks to your soul like that.
And as I think about my upcoming move, I know I’ll miss Cleveland. But I also know it will always be with me. I will leave The Land behind me, but I will carry its lessons and the spirit of its people and my many friends with me where ever life takes me.