I see a lot more people I know out and about in the summer. I like it. I went out to lunch with my new work colleagues last week and saw an old friend I used to work with, who was coming into the same restaurant. We hugged hello and talked about how much we like Cleveland in the summer. He was gearing up for some travel for work, and I for my road trip, and we both talked about how much we couldn’t wait to get back to the city. Summer is truly the most awesome time here, and I love this city more than ever when it’s warm out.
I made my decision to “boomerang” back to here on a visit during the summer. The allure of the familiar streets tugged at me, but what really flipped the coin for me was the quality of my friendships; friends that cared about me, missed me, and were worried about the type of life I was living in Los Angeles, which was not a healthy or safe one. My friends’ level of concern became so acute during my visit home that they gave me a timeline in which I could return, else they would come get me – and they would have. I returned in September of that year, way back in 1998.
I consider myself a citizen of the world, not leashed by the boundaries of my city or state. My best friend lives in Florida. I have great friends on both coasts, as well as dotted across a map of our country – Arizona, Louisiana, Georgia, and lots of places in between. But my community is Cleveland. My artistic soul is here. I am inspired to write, to dream, to act, simply by driving down St. Clair or rounding the Innerbelt. I thrill to an invitation to a gala event (Pandemonium) I am often lucky enough to be asked to perform in each year, and clutched the invitation to my chest yesterday, wondering, hoping I would be asked again, like a teenager hoping for an invitation to homecoming. Greater Cleveland has so much to offer me, and I have so much left to do in this rich region. I love travel, and visiting friends and family, but it’s here, in Cleveland, that I feel at home.
Here is where my baby was born.
Here is where friends of mine have saved my life.
Here is where I have mourned friends and lovers and family members lost – died or otherwise gone away, while other friends held me up, when I could not stand on my own.
Here is where I have made people laugh. I give strangers directions. I help someone who is wounded.
How many kisses have I exchanged with friends and lovers on these city streets? People glad to see me, who embrace me when they come upon me. Colleagues who help dress me in the dark backstage. Lovers who have shared stolen moments with me in dark alleys. Friends with whom I have shared pizza, drink and discussion.
How many strangers have applauded me after I did the best I could on stage? I could kiss each one of them.
How lucky am I to have people like that in my life? How lucky am I to be here? In the summer, no less?
Very, very lucky.