I spent the first 25 years of my life in Northeast Ohio and at some point in your life you make the choice whether to stay or leave. Regardless of the choice you made, everyone always had something in common no matter where they were; you always felt the pain from another Cleveland sports season.
Northeast Ohio has felt a lot of pain for the last 52 years and it hasn’t all been related to sports. However, the pain from our shortcomings in sports hurt much more because they were our escape of the grim reality that lingered for so many years. Even worse, whenever our moments of pain came from sports, they always ended up being named. I can’t really think of any other town who experiences this phenomena. Even the stadium was given the negative connotation of “The Mistake on the Lake.”
Our constant pain and suffering had always made us seem like very pessimistic people to the outside world. Perhaps the only sign of optimism was when Clevelanders said, “There’s always next year!” Well, thanks to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers that no longer has to be a colloquial expression in Northeast Ohio.
When Monday morning came, everything seemed better. My breakfast tasted better than it usually did. My hangover didn’t hurt as bad as it should have. It was as if Sunday had been a life altering moment. I figured LeBron would post some kind of “Get out of work” excuse on Twitter or Instagram. If he did I surely would have tried to use it even though I live in Atlanta now. My brother still lives and works in Cleveland and I didn’t expect him to go to work for at least two weeks.
Most cities have a parade route designated in the event a professional sports team brings home a title. In a larger city, they send it through downtown past the high rise buildings in what is known as the “Canyon of Champions.” It has been so long in Cleveland many of these buildings didn’t exist the last time they had a parade. For as long as the drought was, the parade should have been longer; I think the Cleveland Marathon route would have sufficed because enough people would have come.
It’s only been a few days since the Cavaliers captured their first title, but friends I have spoken to back home don’t sound the same. The gut-wrenching feelings of pain each generation of fans had experienced have begun to fade. Everyone seems to be basking in the magical aura this championship has brought to Northeast Ohio. I’ll bet this euphoria is so strong even Lake Erie appears a majestic blue color now that our eyes are no longer glazed over. I’ll be heading back to the Cleveland in two months for my annual trip home. I can’t wait to see how daily life has been transformed and see how a region has been uplifted.
Photo courtesy of my brother’s Snapchat