I made the choice to go to college in another state, and I've been altogether very happy I made that decision. New York is a beautiful state, and I've gotten to see a lot of it in the two years that I've spent there. I love Rochester. I love the way the city looks from the Ford Street bridge at night, the beacon of Rush Rhees Library always guiding me home, and the grit of the people who have survived the ups and downs of the Kodak/Xerox dynasty. Rochester is my second home and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but Cleveland will always be #1.
I didn't realize it when I first left for college. I thought I was like any other student leaving behind a home town for something more exciting. When I got to school though, I found myself missing things I never knew I would. I missed the way the city looked from I90 as it wraps around by Jacobs Field (it will never be Progressive Field to me). I missed the feel of my favorite neighborhoods, from Lee Rd where I worked to Tremont. I wanted to go pick apples at Patterson Fruit Farm and take home one of their amazing apple pies (I even forced my mom to bring one up to school for me on her first visit).
I missed all of the places I had frequented for so many years, but most of all, I missed the people. The spirit in Cleveland is unlike anywhere else in the world. Taking the national stage now with the return of Lebron James, Cleveland sports fans are frequently cited as some of the most passionate in the nation. The undying love for the Cleveland Browns, arguably the worst team in the NFL, is an example of how people here never give up. It's not about titles or championships, its about passion and love for a place and a team despite its flaws. Sure we don't win the super bowl and we haven't been in the World Series in years, but it doesn't matter. Sports for Clevelanders are a way to come together as a community and showcase our pride despite the trials and tribulations.
Just like with the adversity we face in sports, the residents here aren't dispelled by the "Mistake on the Lake" nickname or at times national ridicule. Clevelanders know why our city is amazing, and we genuinely care about the communities we are from. We've been working for years to make this city a better place, one that will garner national attention in the positive, instead of negative light, and it is finally beginning to seem like a reality.
With the selection of Cleveland as the host site for the Republican National Convention, Cleveland will have a national platform to showcase how far we have come. We really are the "Comeback City". Why? Because we didn't get discouraged when national favor had turned its back on us. Instead, we went to work. We have revamped our convention center, built a new Aloft hotel, revitalized neighborhoods like Ohio City, Tremont, Gordon Square, and 4th street, built a brand new Medical Mart to showcase innovation. We have upscale hotels, restaurants, night life, and energy bursting out of a downtown that now has waiting lists to move into apartment buildings. It hasn't been easy, and there are definitely more strides to be taken, but Cleveland has earned it's title as the "Comeback City", and it's time the rest of the country recognized that.
I want people to understand what it's like to be from a place so passionate about it's history and it's future. I find myself constantly talking up Cleveland and getting defensive when people are unaware of all of our improvements. Sure it might irritate my friends, who find my endless knowledge and facts about Cleveland annoying. And while other people are proud of their home towns, I am the obnoxious one always talking about mine and how great it is. Why? Because Cleveland has been the punch line of too many jokes, and it's time people understood that we aren't the same city we used to be. This city has so much to offer that gets overlooked by those who haven't taken the time to look a little deeper. I apologize for being defensive, it's just that I'm invested in my community, and want to share the growth and the achievements we have made.
I think that Lebron really said it well in his coming home letter explaining his decision. "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have." Cleveland has been working for a long time now, and I think we have earned the right to a little positive recognition.