I live in Cleveland, and I am writing at the end of the World Series. I don’t know how it will conclude, but like most of the people in my city, I’m holding my breath. As I write, I literally just left the cardiac ward of one of the Cleveland Clinic hospitals, where patients’ lives actually seemed to hang in the balance of the game, according to one of the nurses who was monitoring heart rates from a central station in the hallway.
I, who never cared about baseball and avoided Cleveland sports, am more than a little surprised at myself. For, I have grown to care about the outcome of these games. Why so, I ask myself. Why am I sitting with my mom in the hospital, watching a game, when she’s ill, and neither of us has ever cared about sports? I’ve been thinking about this recently, and believe I have landed on the right answer.
You see, when you are from Cleveland, it is not uncommon to have this precise conversation or some permutation thereof:
Stranger: Hello there. Nice to meet you.
Self: Where are you from?
Self: Denver is a lovely city. I visited for my friend’s wedding once.
Stranger: Yes. We love it out there. Great weather; friendly people. What about you… where are you from?
Stranger: (chuckling) I’m sorry. Mistake on the Lake. River’s on Fire. Etc.
Clevelanders are made to feel shame about our city, whereas, by contrast, Chicago is heralded for its architecture, food, and skyline, and so one. Now, I have lived in Chicago. It is beautiful and all that, and, more importantly, Chicago is not what I am writing about. What I have come to observe about myself is that I actually love Cleveland for what it has to offer, which primarily includes people. Hard workers, brilliantly talented musicians, artists, actors, educators, physicians, architects, and more.
I have grown to appreciate the people and stories that built the city’s heritage, culture, ethnic churches, diverse neighborhoods, beautified lakefront, museums, international airports, colleges and universities, rivers, parks, gardens, and on and on. There is persistent and nearly inevitable derision that is glibly tossed our way here in the Two-One-Six. I realize, it has worn me down over the years.
And, especially when I travel for academic conferences and chat over drinks at the receptions, I am tired of playing Justin Martyr to the city, in large measure to defend my own merit as a scholar and educator. Continue reading “The Real World Series by Natalie Weaver”