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.