I'm back at CLE after the conference. CodeMash is so good, and I guess it's surprising just because you wouldn't expect a great conference to be in a winter-bound tourist area an hour away from Cleveland. Again this year, the quality of the people and content was amazing.
I had to drive through a light monsoon back to the airport, but it was easy compared to the worsening conditions two years ago as a mini-blizzard approached. But I was struck with the grayness and lack of color. As I was rolling up in the rental car shuttle, all I could think about is how badly I wanted to hibernate somewhere and take a nap. The memory was connected 100 different ways... college, high school, all of my jobs while living in Brunswick... all with a feeling of gloom and hibernation. I can't help but question: Are the unhappy memories a product of circumstances, or environment? I'm sure it's at least partly environment, because I had a lot of happy summer memories, but there are 36 winters worth of cold there too.
Objectively, Cleveland has had its shares of ups and downs. I remember the silly campaign, "New York is the Big Apple, but Cleveland is a plum." But it was a big deal when we scored the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, and downtown had a (very) gradual renaissance that continues today. "White flight" gutted the parts of the city neighborhoods, and then later the reinvestment in those neighborhoods happened. The former Continental Airlines made the city a hub, but now the airport is half-empty, the "commuter" concourse closed. And while the Cavs finally had their championship moment, the Browns permanently suck.
What has always struck me though, was how loyal people were to the city. I was certainly a cheerleader for it back in the day. I still want it to succeed.
But I think that maybe I just outgrew it or something. I mean, I did leave Cleveland twice. After living in Seattle and Orlando, maybe I just felt like I'd been had, or completely self-unaware. Moving out of town really never occurred to me until the 2008 when the recession started to creep in and there was no work. The only other time I even considered moving a possibility was when I went to a conference in Portland, Oregon, way back when I was 25. Even that feeling quickly left me.
This is the first time I've been back in town since the Steel Vengeance opening at Cedar Point in 2018. That trip was suboptimal because, you guessed it, weather, and I was only there for 26 hours. The time before that was this conference the same year. I think we went for Cedar Point in 2016, and also in 2014 when we basically missed out because of the Great Water Main Break. It's like every time we come back, something borders on disaster.
I don't hate Cleveland, I just don't know what to do with it.