After George Ella Lyon
I’m from big, shady oak trees and enough pollen to kill me,
From perennials that survive to find their way back in bloom every spring despite biting frost.
I’m from blindingly hot summer days and feet that blister on the scorching pavement as we let the car cool off after hours spent on Lake Erie.
I’m from kickball on the cul-de-sac as the sun goes down,
And from autumn colors that rival New England’s, but with people a hundred times nicer.
I’m from a foot and a half of lake-effect snow with no end in sight,
From no such thing as a day off school if you can still get out of the driveway,
And from digging out your neighbor’s car but knowing he’ll shovel your sidewalk in return.
I’m from marrying your senior-year sweetheart and sending your kids to the same elementary school you attended, where half the same teachers still teach.
I’m from an aged but familiar face at every hometown dive bar,
And from still—always—identifying yourself by the year you graduated high school because, oh, did you graduate with my cousin?
I’m from a map that leads to small towns whose Native American names you can’t pronounce,
From Cuyahoga and Wapakoneta and Tuscarawas and Olentangy,
I’m from the North Coast and summers at Sea World and the best roller coasters in the country,
And flyover towns whose validity and worth are forever being underestimated.
I’m from brown and orange, wine and gold, and nemeses in the form of cities I’ve never visited,
From that damn Drew Carey song and promising to call it Jacobs Field forever,
From witnessing and jersey-burning and ultimately forgiving,
From “Maybe this year” to “Maybe next year” to “Maybe again someday.”
Because I’m from a home that taught us how to hope.
I’m from hard, nasally As that reveal themselves after a few Dortmunders,
From middle class and white trash and never realizing that rich people think they’re the same.
I’m from “two hours away” and a hidden cop car on every stretch of highway,
From tree lawns and “needs done” and pop, not soda,
From the candy, the mascot, and the nut, in that order.
I’m from dollar drafts and homemade casseroles and half-priced appetizers,
From Friday nights spent listening to cover bands on the burning river we learned about in history books.
I’m from round on the sides and high in the middle,
And an enthusiastic “I-O!” shouted in return, no matter where else I may roam.
Kate Bigam Kaput is a seasoned writer, editor, and freelance journalist based in Tremont. Originally from Cuyahoga Falls, she spent seven years on the East Coast before returning home to Northeast Ohio and making it her mission (and passion) to show the world that Cleveland does, in fact, rock. She blogs at GreatestEscapist.com and can be found on various social media platforms as @katekaput.
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