Carrie corrected me that night, noting that the tugboat I pointed to was actually a barge. (Not that to a Jew ANYWHERE there’s a difference). Still, my sighting of the “vessel”, if you will, had come days after my brother’d sent the video of an old Gerry & The Pacemaker’s song. It, of haunting lyrics:

       “…Life goes on day after day…
       Hearts torn in every way
       So ferry ‘cross the Mersey
       ’cause this land’s the place I love…
       and here I’ll stay…”

It’s not that I crave Cleveland so much as that I hold dear the concept of home. My home. Cleveland. Never have I understood, frankly, how others — especially those of my generation — so easily, so readily picked up to drop anchors elsewhere.

Did they hate it here? Was the opportunity there? Did they fall in love with out-of-staters? With other cities? What, pray tell, could have provided impetus justifying the pulling of one’s roots?

Might choice of college have contributed to desertion of our North Coast? Sadly it’s noted that cousin Bonnie, Cohn and Herman all schooled at Wisconsin. Yet from Madison none returned home. Columbus took everyone back then, so the rest of us for the most part, attended. (Ed. Note 1: Ermine? Ohio Northern? Really?).

Most of us, (even Wieder for a cup of coffee), returned. Born and bred here, we anchored here. At home.

Forty years have passed. Plus. Making rounds through my city even now, an extra dynamic attaches … a heartfelt kinship … to those that have never left town. Be it unspoken communication or whatever, an intangible camaraderie, a heartfelt connection exists.

That’s why, for example, there was a reunion of sorts this past month. No, not the typical high school thing where people come in from all over.  It was, rather, but an ad hoc gathering of a dozen or so classmates at Tasty’s Pizza.

No couples. No dressing up. Just a conglomeration of classmates that didn’t necessarily hang together “in the day”. At some level back then — even in high school — we clung with our own. Sure our group had expanded beyond Rowland. Certainly new friends ensued in junior high and high school. For the most part however, regular running remained with the thirteen or so “original colonies”, the same ones that danced at our Bar Mitzvahs.

       “…People they rush everywhere
       Each with their own secret care …”

(Ed. Note 2: We met great people at Brush. They were, though, pretty much “school friends”. Monday to Friday, 8 to 4 we would bond. And maybe at a football game. But we had Manners at Fairmount Circle; theirs was on Mayfield; and as to McDonald’s? We ate in the car).

(Ed. Note 3: This was similar in nature to the dynamic between regular friends and Hebrew School friends. Some people — guys we’d bond with immeasurably in school — we just didn’t see in the real world. There was, as our parents would say, a time and a place for everything).

— And yet, this dozen or so friends bonded by time and place, laughed, hugged, and broke bread in the old neighborhood over old memories and bonds that may not really have happened.

— But we were all still here.

— And standing.

To me they are notable: the ones that stayed. To me they are special — if only because they stayed. At home.

Perhaps that’s why, in a way, I loved Jason the minute I met him. Stacy had yet to really lock in out west; it was clear that those two had a future; and immediately she had whispered “He’ll never leave Chicago.” Perhaps too that’s the source of my fealty to Stuart Miller or Matthew Klein. Nothing says New York like those two; never could I picture them elsewhere.

Friends criticize because I don’t travel; some chide me and claim I am narrow.

None, however, give me grief about staying in Cleveland. I sense, rather, that within them lays….if only for a bit … if not envy, if not admiration …

…for the Snyders and Treinishs and Walters and Wohlfeilers and even the nerds like me…that clung to, and cherished, and stayed safe at home.

       “…So I’ll continue to say
       Here I always will stay
       So ferry ‘cross the Mersey
       ’cause this land’s the place I love
       and here I’ll stay, here I’ll stay
       Here I’ll stay! ….”


  1. Alan Wieder says:

    Very moving — something that I don’t get to know. Comfort, same streets, running in to people you know, all part of staying 30 years or much more. So not at all sad but there is some envy. It’s your place.

  2. Up From Dysfunction says:

    We drove by 4377 Bayard last weekend. I pointed out where and how we hit golfballs from the top of your lawn. Alan, you and I will “always have Paris”. HNYear to you and Joanie.

  3. Stuart says:

    It’s not Cleveland. It’s the group that we grew up with and built bonds with that make our “home” special. Can’t find that anywhere else. The Cleveland weather is miserable half the year but the people in the hood are always sunny and warm.

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