June 20, 2011 we wake up on a mattress on the floor surrounded by piles of boxes in our 3 bedroom rental house in Cleveland, OH. It’s still hard to believe this is our new home for the next four years. Never would I have thought we would be living in Cleveland. We spent the first few days tearing open boxes, cleaning, agreeing and disagreeing about how things should be organized, and slowly putting together a home for our family. Our first house and we are in love.
At the end of day one we are dragging empty boxes and trash to the curb since Tuesday is trash day. Box after box we drag out and on one of our many trips a little girls walks boldly up to us. With extremely articulate speech she asks, “Did you just move in?” Yes, we explain we just moved here from Iowa. She then sticks her hand boldly out and says “Nice to meet you. I’m Julie. This is my sister Morgan.” Morgan, several years older than this spunky little girl shyly shakes our hands while looking at the ground. Julie turns to Rob and says, “I hear you are a doctor. Is it like Grey’s Anatomy?” Rob laughs and says no, that he’s an Emergency Medicine doctor so it’s not really the same. Morgan finds her voice and chimes in, “Julie is obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy.” We chat for a few minutes and the girls are on their way. I watch as they walk away from us down the sidewalk. Julie fans her face. I smile and look over at Robbie. “Apparently she thought you were pretty cute, huh?” Rob just shakes his head. We grab another load of cardboard boxes from the house and as we are setting them down a woman yells from across the street and motions for us to cross. She is walking a dog that looks like Simba from the Lion King who is clearly battling arthritis. “I’m Ruth,” she says. “I wanted to introduce myself and make sure you got an invitation to the block party in August.” As we are talking we end up meeting one neighbor after another. They welcome us to the neighborhood and tell us it is a community here. “If you need anything, you let us know,” Sue offers. “When Sarah across the street had a baby we did the same thing for her. With your husband working odd hours it can be tough.” We thanked them all and headed in for the night. We already feel at home.
Each day we venture out a little farther from home as we locate our bank, library, grocery stores, etc. Slowly making sense of the tangled, winding streets that make up Cleveland. I would love to meet the person who designed the streets here. They seem custom designed to confuse visitors and newcomers. Streets wind through the city curving every which direction making the words North, South, East, and West completely meaningless. Still, getting lost is an adventure and we learn a lot by just enjoying each trip out of the house – wherever it might take us! We are thrilled to find new treasures like West Side Market, Lakwood park (great view of the city skyline and Lake Eerie!), Melt restaurant (gourmet grilled cheese), Metro Parks, etc. I think neither of us have completely grasped the concept that we will not be returning to Des Moines anytime soon. We are learning to make Cleveland our home one day at a time.