It was about 11 years ago today that we shared with the world our pending departure from Seattle to move back to Cleveland. I remember being tentative about it, and it didn't take long for it to feel like a mistake. We corrected that in less than two years by moving to Orlando. But while some people seem to consistently believe that I "hate" Cleveland, that's not the case. Seeing Cleveland for its good qualities while not wanting to live there and being very done with it are not mutually exclusive conditions.
Cleveland has a lot of things going for it, and has for a long time. Obviously Cedar Point was a big part of it for me in adulthood. It also has some of the best museums in the world, chief among them the art museum and the rock hall. The metroparks system and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are unique among metros. Blossom Music Center is awesome. There is a robust food scene not just with celebrity chefs, but institutions like Tommy's in Coventry. The lakefront is a great asset when it's not dumping snow inland. There are so many concert venues and everyone stops there. Playhouse Square is second only to Broadway. The zoo is one of the best. Cleveland has the Browns. Ha ha ha, OK, I couldn't say that with a straight face. I would add that Cleveland's proximity to Columbus is a big plus too, which is another major metro with lots to do.
I will strongly endorse Cleveland as a pretty cool place... but it just isn't for me anymore. Certainly the weather is a huge part of it for me, and that became obvious after just one winter in Seattle. Fun fact, Cleveland gets slightly more annual rain than Seattle, and then add on 54 inches of snow. The real issue though isn't the precipitation, it's the long months of gray "deadness," where there is no green and the sky is a flat, featureless gray for weeks on end. Now that I know I get seasonal affective disorder, it causes me to reframe my entire life. Those days in college that I couldn't get out of bed weren't entirely about feeling lonely, there were environmental features at play. Seattle has its misty rain days throughout winter, but you still get a crack of sun periodically.
But the real background is that Cleveland has a lot of baggage for me. I hated school, career changes and setbacks derailed me, I got divorced... there's just a lot of pain that I associate with the locale. That's not Cleveland's fault, but it is what it is. By the time I left, I wasn't attached to anything there. I thought that maybe I was when we moved back, but really it was just that damn house that I couldn't sell.
And sure, a part of it is living somewhere new and drastically different, 2,500 miles away. Seattle, to me, was "better" in many ways, which again doesn't mean that Cleveland was "worse." There was this feeling of, "Wow, I spent three and a half decades in one place and living somewhere else makes it feel small." I don't know if I consider Orlando "better" as much as I think it's "different," but it has been mostly good to us, for sure. Even after nine years it seems weird to say I live here.
I'm not kicking Cleveland in the nuts. I acknowledge there are a lot of pros to it. It's just not a place where I want to live anymore.
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