Sunday, November 4, 2007

Day One...

Today's topic is about positive memories, influences, and the like. I've noticed that several people wrote about places, so I will as well.

Obviously, any Jew will tell you that Israel makes it into his/her top ten list of favorite places. The same goes for myself, specifically Jerusalem (taking the #1 spot) and Tzfat (the #2). However, I'd like to write about my third favorite place: my hometown.

I'm from Cleveland, born and bred.

Since I first came to Jersey almost ten years ago, I'm constantly met with this response when I tell people where I'm from: "Oh, Cleveland? (eyes roll) Yeah, what's there, anyway?"

Truth be told, their not prepared for my answer. Usually people try to defend their respective hometowns, insistent that their city isn't dead, that there's loads to do, places to go, and exciting things to see. And, Cleveland (and the surrounding area) does have all those things. There's the Rock and Roll hall of fame, I'm told that the nightlife can be pretty intense, and the local music scene is very happening.

However, my response to people's disdainful comments is full agreement. For me, the reason I love my hometown is because there's really nothing going on, if you want it that way. The sole reason I love going home is because that's my decompression area. When I go home, I go to the library, stock up on books, and relax, allowing myself the time needed to recharge my physical batteries.
In a "small town" like mine, you can't rely on the fact that there's a shul around the corner, where you can catch a minyan (quorum of ten adult Jewish males, a basic requirement for public prayers) until 10 in the morning. No. In my neighborhood, the latest minyan is at 8:30. If you don't catch that, you have to either pray alone, or drive to the other neighborhood.
The politics in a small town can get pretty messy, but thankfully they are isolated cases; they don't happen very often, and eventually, even the most bitter fights are cleared up, with both parties moving on.
To be honest, it's very refreshing to come home and see a real sense of community, something that does exist elsewhere, I'm sure, but not as recognizable in larger places, like in the tri-state area. Nothing beats walking into shul on Friday night, and seeing people's faces light up because you're there. They don't know what is happening in your personal life - because you're always out of town - but it doesn't matter to them anyway; you're home, and that's all that matters...It gives you a real sense of belonging.
Being home, eating mom's delicious food, praying at my shul and seeing all my childhood friends? That's a perfect vacation for me, and I wouldn't give that up for anything in the world.
A lot of times we feel like we have to define ourselves by what we have. Cleveland reminds me that not only do we not have to define ourselves that way, but sometimes it's better to define ourselves by what we don't have...

8 comments:

Ezzie said...

Well said, man.

The Dreamer said...

that's what i've missed out on, growing up in new york.

m00kie said...

i can totally relate..
whenever id come home, everyone was so excited to see me.. and eventhough ive been back for a few years already, the older ones sometimes forget and give me the big "ooh youre back for a visit!" smile.. and i dont correct them :)

Jack's Shack said...

Hmmm

karma dude said...

You forgot parking. That's a small town plus. I remember when where I live was just as you described Cleavland. I miss it.

jewmaican20 said...

Thanks Ezzie...

Dreamer - yeah, sometimes I feel bad for you New Yorkers, too.

m00k - the old folks at home do that as well, and in the mikveh, it can get pretty awkward...

Jack - I think you mean "Hmmm MMMM hmmm"...but maybe that's just me...

Karma Dude - I can't imagine your hometown ever being lke mine...

G said...

"The politics in a small town can get pretty messy,"

**sigh**Ah yes. Schools, shuls, neighborhoods...us vs them...good vs evil...**sniff**Aw man, now your making me homesick**sniff**

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