9.25.2013

Rust Belt Ode



















It's a funny thing, returning to the place you grew up. Time brings inevitable change; separation tinges the familiar with a slightly foreign hue. You feel suspended in a strange limbo, being both out of place, and at home, at once. But inside that space dwells the opportunity for new appreciation, a chance to pause and refocus your perspective. You see things differently each time you come around, becoming aware that both you and this place are alive, evolving. Bonded by a shared root, growing in different directions, but vines forever tangled.

Cleveland, OH: During a recent visit, I spent a lot of time downtown and felt a particularly heightened sense of things I had long taken for granted (or perhaps failed to ever notice in a meaningful way.) The patina of its bridges, a vestige of the city's steel-driven past. The way that massive barges still navigate the crooked Cuyahoga with a confounding nimbleness. The riverfront, lined with charming, history-studded buildings aching for a revival. The food market that I trolled as a kid, with its heckling fruit vendors, its rows of kielbasa, pig heads, Eastern European pastries. The urban growth (literally) sprouting by way of city farming initiatives. The neighborhood sidewalks littered with Midwestern autumn. There's an authenticity to the place. A loyalty. A forlorn beauty. A sense of community that's rooted in Rust Belt strength. And scorned sports teams. And lake effect.

7 comments:

  1. Great photos of your past world. Nicely done.

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  2. I am originally from about 2 hours due south of Cleveland, and I connected immediately with this - first I was like 'these pictures look so familiar' then with what you wrote. It really is just like that when I go back - feeling rooted and feeling like I am not part of it anymore, at the same time. Everything in the rust belt feels so of that place.

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  3. This was beautifully written. I'm from Detroit and I can imagine that it's a similar situation. It's nice to see someone who can still see the beauty in these cities.

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  4. I love that harsh yellow building - beautiful pictures!

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  5. Even the name of your post, "Rust Belt Ode" denotes the time and livelihood for something to develop that patina. I continue to appreciate what's old and perhaps staid whenever I venture home again because so much has changed- in me, in the city and I find what is old somehow comforting.

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