No matter how hard I try to remove or turn away from it, I am Cleveland to the core. It’s funny, I’ve lived in Illinois longer than I ever did in Cleveland, but I was born and raised there and I still feel a connection. It’s been maybe ten years since I’ve been there and I’m sure a lot has changed.
The one thing that keeps bringing me back are the sports teams. I have always been a huge Browns fan. My earliest sports memories involve Bernie Kosar and those teams of the eighties, powerhouses of the NFL. And the heartbreak…man I still don’t like Elway. But I will always remember the town painted orange and the songs on the radio. My favorite was “Bernie, Bernie,” which was sung along to the tune of “Louie, Louie.”
I loved those times. Cleveland was something. It was a hard nosed, tough town and other teams wanted no part of them.
Then there were the Cavs. I loved those teams led by Brad Daugherty. I vividly remember Michael Jordan hitting his famous fade away over Ehlo, the shot you see in commercials or highlights about Jordan. He too was another iconic figure I didn’t like. I respected his talent but he had a tendency to bring out the flashy stuff against my team!
The Indians were always terrible when I was a kid, but they were my hometown team and I followed them anyway. It wasn’t till I moved to Illinois that they made it to the World Series. I tuned in to every game, just waiting and hoping they’d do Cleveland proud. Even though they lost, they did bring some excitement and hope to the city.
I loved my time there. Other than following all the Cleveland teams, I was a fun loving skater. I’d grab my board and be off for the day, skating anywhere I wanted. I had great friends that tought me how to be a better skater, how to appreciate music, and be a conscientious person.
My taste in music was clearly influenced by my city and my friends. I sided more with the gritty, do-it-yourself music of New York over the flashy Los Angeles scene. It fit more with what Cleveland was. And that music was political and social in nature, decrying social injustice and promoting lifting yourself up and standing up for what’s right. My friends and I steered clear of music from bands that wanted nothing more than to get in the pants of any girl that would let them. We respected music that spoke of things with more substance.
All of these things, and much much more influenced who I am today. I take those memories everywhere. At the core, my city was and is…Cleveland.