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Cleveland Nostalgia

by Holly Cook about a year ago in humanity
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A Short Story About Change

Somewhere on I-71 in Ohio.

That’s the thing about this city… everytime I come home, every so often, it’s the same old roads and stomping ground I remember growing up surrounded by. Since I was a baby, I lived in the same house on Bostwick Crossing. My siblings had one house before that they experienced as a home, but that place was never really a home for me; apparently they just threw the crib in my dad’s makeshift early 1990’s home office, disorganized and clearly on the precipice of a budding business venture. Anyhow, the streets in our neighborhood were new, as building projects of new homes sprung up, expanding the thriving barrio for families with kids to flock to.

I’ll never forget those spring days. I still can feel that chilly crisp winter air from the lingering Ohio winter warmed up by the heat of the sun peaking through stray clouds. I’d get toasty shooting baskets on the paved driveway and tie my Limited Too zip-up sweatshirt around my waste. Classy, I know. Summer would always entail plentiful bike rides and pickup games in the cul-de-sac until the sun started to set, the street lamps signaling time to return home for supper.

It’s maddening how one’s perspective of one place can change so drastically over the years. Becoming an adult has helped with that plenty, along with my mother’s touches on rearranging her particular decor and the furniture. I try to reminisce about those good ole’ days, unaware of how diluted my memories may be by dreams and false recollections. Even now I dream constantly, oftentimes manifesting visions of home reanimated and distorted in typical unusual dream physics. The same brick home, enlaced with hidden rooms, pathways, unique exaggerated features that are simply not how it appears in reality. A type of funhouse within the familiarity, created within my own subconscious.

Back in high school, I was the first out of my friends to obtain my driver’s license and had a set of wheels to get around on. A mini van, matter of fact, hand-me-down Dodge Caravan I nick-named “The Great White Whale” that we used for many road trips in my youth. Now ample space for me and the gang to explore past the boundaries of our western suburb. Stocked with self-made mixtape CDs, blasting music windows down, getting to know and exploring the various streets, cafes, shops and restaurants leading all the way to downtown Cleveland. When I visit home now, as a twenty-something year old adult, it’s nearly the same although notably different through the constant changing and urbanizing of the once distant suburb. Still a sense of comfort came over me, similar to a child with their security blanket. Only visiting maybe one or two friends from home that lasted the test of time, seriously proving their loyalty as reliable supporters on team Ellie.

College years at The Ohio State University played a heavy role in my desire to stick around the Columbus area. Not necessarily still in the campus area, but just far enough away to be among young professionals, families and retirees, rather than the masses of students flocking like sheep towards EDM music at dingy house parties. Believe me, I attended my fair share of those, but now I’m much more content in a quieter area with a cute little porch and fenced in yard for my labrador retriever. And yes, free street parking is quite essential in a city-type area. This neighborhood does remind me of back home, more so mimicking the Lakewood area on Cleveland’s west side. I do think about returning.

I mean it is still Ohio right?

Just right up I-71, about two hours or so heading north, then you hit I-480, unless you want the really good view of the city scenic view, then take I-90. Continue west, further into suburbia then boom, home. Same bricks, new roof, trees reaching full maturity in the front lawn and tree lawn. Same streets, some houses primped and new looking with a fresh paint of coat or whole new entire houses sprung out of the ground just like magic. Although months usually lapse each time I return, I’m still amazed at all that can change. Forever evolving, just like every single one of us. Father time waving his magic wand through gardeners creating beautiful landscapes, construction workers erecting the carefully detailed blueprints of architects and engineers, and loved ones gradually adding more wrinkles to their once blank canvas.

I mean, growth and progress happens everywhere, right? So why does it seem so much more dramatic when it hits home? What are these nostalgic landmarks truly representing and why do I so desperately want them to stay as is?

I found myself buried under blankets, a cup of coffee grasped between both hands for warmth, pondering why I felt this way. My mind creating a tornado of thoughts, too many to even begin to process. Not sure if I felt more like Dorothy or the Wicked Witch of the East, up into the twister or being crushed by this horrendous, extremely random flurry. Do I miss my youth and that was just where I happened to live at that time? Am I subconsciously unsatisfied with my time in Columbus? Do I leave the friends I’ve met here? Do I want to move someplace different and new? I could feel my temples begin to tense, pulsing rapidly. Too many thoughts rushing through, can’t decipher one from the next; I need to chill.

One of the neat things I learned in my adulthood-ness: meditation. A way to quiet my rampant brain, a mental chill pill, at least for a little while. I got up from the couch, rolled out my crappy lime green yoga mat, and popped a squat cross-legged being sure to center myself appropriately. Deep breath… and sigh it out. I began slowly stretching, casually shifting from one soft yoga pose to the next, with a fluidity still in a zen state of being. A few more deep breaths later, I could feel the stress of the unknown, the uncomfortable thoughts of why things are how they are and what it all means. But, in reality it’s not all that important to know. We are just humans, living paths we each choose for ourselves. Humans that are all guests on this planet, molding and shaping it for our benefit; a planet that is not ours. I’m not sure why I tend to get fixated on the past, present, or future.

Grounding helps to remind myself that I love my past even if it wasn’t picture perfect, as it transformed me into who I am today. Probably why I have attachment to my beloved hometown, as it is directly correlated to my growth. It’s usually the fond times we look back on anyways, stored in our memory bank of nostalgia. Oftentimes forgetting the awkwardness associated with transitioning from a carefree kid into a self-conscious teenager. The rejection faced by peers or the feeling of not fitting in and being left out just for being different. Like being unique was somehow frowned upon. Then we eventually grow up and realize how wrong that thought process actually was and learn to embrace those resurfaced roots once buried deep inside our souls.

I learned that grounding provides awareness; which is essential, especially since I have a bad habit of overreacting. Time is relevant, it is what you make it. Like that cliché saying Happiness is a journey, not a destination, actually quite accurate in practice. I took a moment gathering the significance of this breakthrough, and settled on this mantra to tell myself: You got this fellow human, continue evolving. You are beautiful just like that city that helped shape you.


About the author

Holly Cook

Animal enthusiast and writing hobbyist.

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