I just returned from a week-long trip to California, where my friend Mike resides with his uncle in a beautiful home overlooking the Los Angeles Bay. We took a 3-day trip to San Fransisco, and spent most of our time being tourists. All details of my touristy adventures aside, Mike and I went out for drinks with my friend Justin and his wife Claudia, who recently relocated to SF from where-else but Cleveland. Justin (OB-GYN) and Claudia (Dermatology) are both graduates of Case’s Medical School, where they met and eventually got married. We met up in the Mission District, an area low on the socio-economic scale, but high on diverse nightlife options – reminded me of Tremont in many ways. We got our drinks and sat down at a table. The assault on Cleveland began:

Justin: “God, I am so glad to be out of Cleveland. Isn’t SF great?!”
Me: “Yeah, it’s a cool city. It’d be better if there wasn’t a beggar on every corner. Claudia, you’re from here aren’t you?”
Claudia nods.
Mike: “You’re from SF? Why the hell did you go to medical school in Cleveland?!”
Claudia: “I don’t know, it was a huge mistake. I graduated from Stanford and applied to schools all over the country. Case had a great reputation and when I visited, everyone there told me how great it was. It was the worst five years of my life.”
Me: “Hmm . . . what was so bad about it?”
Claudia: “Oh come on, you live there, you should know. The weather is terrible, there’s no sun for 7 months of the year. And the people! Could they be any more negative? SF isn’t perfect, but at least people love living here.”
Me: “Yeah, the weather does suck. I guess I never really bought into what people say though.”
Justin: “What do you mean? Everyone in Cleveland hates Cleveland. I met a few cool people that actually liked it there, but for the most part, everyone hates it.”
Me: “I don’t pay attention to everyone.”
Justin: “Well, good luck to you trying to change that place.”
Me: “Thanks. Let’s get another beer.”

Conversations like this always leave me feeling like some sort of martyr. While “everyone” seems to be running away from the fire, I look for the challenge of jumping right in the middle of it. For every closed down factory, I see an opportunity for a new industry. For every reactionary bureaucrat, I see a progressive visionary independent. For every dreary gray day in winter, I see the glorious days of a Cleveland summer. For every Browns loss, I see a Cavs win. My brand of idealism is ironic, given that most people who meet me think I’m cynical and pessimistic. But the truth is, I get frustrated by “everyone’s” inability to look past the misfortunes of Cleveland’s economic downturn and not focus their time and attention on its inevitable revitalization. I’m not a martyr – I’m a transplant who refuses to reject the unhealthy system.


Hi-five on your trip to CA….. Born and raised in Cleveland, I left for college and career and returned a few years ago to take care of family. I have similar conversations from friends when I visit friends on the East Coast. They wonder when I’m going to get my life/career back on track and return to a real city with real movers & shakers. I understand your martyr comment, but hold the faith — water is on the way….

Yes, I returned to Cleveland after living in sunny, Phoenix AZ. ( Read brown, dry,hot, cold). I went to live a “working life-to retire later” near my daughter and grandson. In three months I was planning to return. I lasted 18 months there. I was the lone car on the road driving back to Cleveland two years ago this week! ( My doctor said that three arrive in Phoenix, and two leave!!)

Born and raised a “Northeasterner” from Pa, and then Cleveland area….I was stunned at what we had that I missed, not available in Arizona. Of course with having 5 grown children living East of the Mississippi, there was a draw to move Eastward, but not the primary motivator. You know that we have the Lake, the outstanding Art Museum, the Cleveland Orchestra/Severance Hall,Parade the Circle, The impressive remodeled Theatre Complex, , University Circle/education ,art, music schools, Historical Society, etc, etc, and most of all we have the Emerald Necklace, which I missed the most.

How could we not be the MOST outstanding city in the minds of the world.????Marketing, I believe. We bought the pictures of the retired golpher and his wife in the sunshine, the retired couple on the beach, or boat…..hook line and sinker!

I am glad I came back…the snow is exciting and beautiful and I missed it. The summer was beyond extraordinary ! Yes, we have some gloom in winter. Likewise Phoenix has a terrible summer esp in August with monsoons, humidity, etc. Everyone leaves town for the mountains.! Bet you don’ know that !!
I believe that residents here ARE somewhat sad, depressed aand negative. I believe its the fall out of being from heavily European descendants whose culture has never been happy…..think about it ( ( Phoenix is 60 % Mexican immigrants and they are very happy people)
So we need to “Lighten Up ” ,create upbeat marketing , and plaster it all over National Magazines. Maybe our gloomy residents will actually start to believe it!!!
PS. IT was HARD to return. Employers don’t think about hiring person s from “out of town”and expect you to show up in their office for an interview. The Apartment complex’s here don’t like dogs. ( unike Chicago, Phoenix, NY.), so I almost quite in the search for living quarters….frustrating. In fact, I rent a house, just to keep the dog! That is all “small town” stuff I believe and does not help one to relocate. So we can use some “smart tuning” as a city!
Thanks for listening!

# Submitted by cthompson on Thu, 01/03/2008 - 11:46.

Welcome Home.
And hopefully someone who likes dogs will welcome you into their building.

Author: advance759