I went to Cleveland on purpose once. It was for a work trip and it happened almost 4 months ago. The pause in collecting my thoughts can only be blamed on the fact that Ohio is truly the Florida of the kind-of-Midwest. Sure, something probably goes on there, but does any of it matter if it’s not an election year?
I prepped for my trip like any other: by throwing a collection of shirts and pants into a too-small-carryon the night before, then frantically rearranging everything into another (slightly-larger) bag the next morning before leaving for the airport. Some people get high off planning every detail prior to departure. You know the drill. Full itinerary: things to do, addresses of any Diners, Drive-In’s and Dive’s locations to eat at, celebs fav Instagram spots to stalk, etc…
Cleveland was different… mainly because I had never in my entire life thought about the city of Cleveland before discovering it to be the location of this already-registered-and-paid-for-conference. I know LeBron and the Cavaliers are there (and people love him again?), but so?? You never hear of vacationing in Cleveland, or retiring away to Cleveland- but you do hear that about Florida- anyway, one local summed up the mystique that shrouds THE LAND with Confucian/burnout eloquence:
“Cleveland… we have a lot, but nothing that stands out.”
He was kind of right. And tbqh, Cleveland felt like a place that someday- when I’m well into my 40’s or 50’s- will issue a public health warning over loudspeakers like:
If you have ever resided in or visited Cleveland, probability of exposure to some brain-eating-bacteria-virus-disease is imminent.
It would be like the beginning of an outbreak movie but instead of giving me a zombie-like taste for human flesh, it would just slowly degrade my nonexistent taste in sports teams and develop a physical chip on my shoulder, then eventually convince me to install a 1,800watt sound system on my big wheel bike. I have to admit, going Full Cleveland is something that both excites and terrifies me— and also sounds like something sexual and that maybe I should’ve Urban Dictionary-ied beforehand?*
However – and I’ll say it loud for the people in the back:
CLEVELAND WAS A DREAMLAND.
Cleveland didn’t give a HECK if I thought about it before, or if I ever even planned on swinging through. Cleveland keeps doing its damn thing regardless of being referred to as the mistake on the lake and despite sometimes smelling like a dead fish– because like a drunk aunt at a wedding: Cleveland just.won’t.quit.
SHOUTOUT TO CLEVELAND:
For being a pleasant surprise!
For having lots of stuff to do within walking distance of my AirBnB!
For christening my millennialism with my first taste of avocado toast! Too bad now I’ll never own a home, Cleveland Tea Company
For tons of cool street art/local artists!
For the Jukebox, which reminded me of the HandleBar in STL but with friendlier bartenders (more like bar-friend-ers)!
For making me feel like I could get into a fight at any moment!
For providing a Lyft driver that said Cleveland is not the place to get into my first fight! (Thanks for lookin’ out, Charles)
And last but most certainly not least, shoutout to Rick Ross, because I feel like this coffee shop tip jar didn’t give him the love he deserves.
About The Author:
CeCe O’Neill is from the actual-middle-of-the-country-mid-west (unlike Ohio) and she feels that maybe if you can see Canada from your lakeshore, then you’re not actually in the Midwest!! Similar to Ohioans, she does say pop instead of soda, but CeCe is a firm believer that you can say either and people will still get what you mean; there’s no reason to correct someone like you haven’t heard that word before!!! *She did Urban Dictionary Full Cleveland and it was only a little arousing: any male outfit that includes both a white patent leather belt and matching white shoes. Daring. Bold. Cleveland.