Hometown hate syndrome

When one has lived in a city for too long, it has been my experience that distaste for the place can develop. Growing up in Cleveland, I often heard phrases along the lines of "Cleveland sucks" or "Cleveland is boring," or other negative sentiments. I was no exception.

When vacationing in Seattle or New York City, I enviously eyed their populated downtown areas, energetic vibe, and other attributes I thought of as "cool."

"Why can’t Cleveland be like that?" was a common, though unexpressed, question in my mind.

Some time in the past year or so, my view began to change. This was primarily due to the fact that I went away to college, a place where one often gains new perspectives on life. I’ve figured out that anything becomes missed after an extended period without it.

I attend the University of Redlands in Southern California, located an hour and a half east of Los Angeles. While the campus is an enjoyable place to spend time, the city of Redlands and the surrounding urban sprawl is decidedly less pleasant.

If one desires to go anywhere beyond the local Chipotle restaurant, a car is a necessity. A car is needed to get to the nearest bus station. The freeway goes right through the city. A "metro" train ride to L.A. is a notoriously slow and painful affair. The same can be said about driving anywhere in Southern California, where the streets are wide, but inhospitable to bicycles and even pedestrians—sidewalks are often lacking and motorists regularly ignore the crosswalks.

Returning to Cleveland on winter break, and then again for summer vacation, my view of this city has been completely renewed. I started paying more attention to the architecture, public transportation, the people, the urban planning, the greenery—all of which are great—and realized that Cleveland is already a good place to live, and has potential to be even better.

The sprawling cities surrounding L.A. are without distinguishable identity, community, and many other things that Cleveland has.

Coming into Cleveland on the Red Line from the airport, I was newly impressed with a spectacle I once ignored.

I’ve been tempted to videotape the drive from Hopkins to my house on Kingston Road, off Fairmount. I’ve never seen such a dynamic, monumental series of places in a city: from the skyline, including the lake, numerous bridges and skyscrapers, to the myriad, magisterial churches of the Euclid Corridor, up lush Cedar Hill through the classy (and still improving) Cedar Lee district. Further up the gracefully curving Fairmount Boulevard, laden with venerable trees and stately mansions, and down my own charming street.

The journey from degradation to appreciation has been a mysterious one, the catalyst—college. Perhaps my young peers who post "Cleveland is boring" on their Facebook pages need the away-from-home experience to change their views as well. Indeed, maybe we all need a little time away from home to appreciate what we have.

Anthony Sgro, a graduate of CHHS, attended the University of Redlands this past year. He is interested in botany, art, music and the rejuvenation of Cleveland.  

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 11:56 PM, 06.22.2010