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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JUN
20

For Cleveland

The thing about Cleveland is it was only mine for seven years. That’s as long as I lived there. But it’s the first city that really felt like mine; the first city that saw me moving across the country, knowing no one, and beginning to build a life for myself. It’s also the first city I ever lived in that had an NBA team. So, in a way, the Cavaliers were probably destined to be mine, too.

I was surprised during these finals how many people didn’t think that the Cavs would win. Very nearly everyone predicted a Warriors repeat. I confess being down 3-1 was a bit foreboding. I myself was in Cleveland for game 4. Oakland is a lot closer, but I flew my Californian ass to Cleveland and cheered my heart out along with 20,561 others; 20,561 others who left Quicken Loans arena probably just as discouraged as I was. But the thing is, it wasn’t over. And just before getting on a plane and winging my way back west, I said to someone, “All we have to do is win three in a row.” And I was being sincere, in that, taken one game at a time, I didn’t see how it wasn’t possible. Even probable. Them boys were on a mission. To me it seemed so obvious that they wanted it more than Golden State. They wanted it for Cleveland.

I’ve run into some who can’t root for Cleveland because of the seeming fickleness of the fans. The fact that we loved LeBron, hated him, and then loved him again. As a person who lived in Cleveland for the best of the LeBron years, the years he played for Miami, and then was still living there when he made the decision to return, I can assure you that it was certainly a fascinating fandom flip-flop. But it’s really not that hard to understand. We were hurt, indescribably so. “The Decision” was a lousy way for a star athlete to make such an announcement. But if you read the essay LeBron wrote that accompanied his decision to return to Cleveland, he addresses the folly of “The Decision,” and explains why coming home and bringing a championship to Cleveland was, he’d realized, more important. Hurt as we were, you couldn’t read that essay without feeling not only that you were witnessing growth, but also sincerity. So is it any wonder that when I heard the news—while in the dressing room of the Anthropologie store on Chagrin Blvd.—I broke into a smile that wouldn’t go away? (Let me say, for the record, that I sometimes miss the low cost of living that allowed me to even shop at Anthropologie in the first place something fierce.)

I have wanted this for Cleveland for all of those seven years, and the two since I left as well. I realize that’s not nearly as long as many Cleveland fans; fans who have endured decades (or a lifetime) of their teams coming up short. But it’s long enough to feel a sense of satisfaction over last night’s win that goes beyond a mere victory or title. It’s long enough to have cried when that buzzer sounded. And it’s certainly long enough to be a Cleveland fan for always. Hats off to you, Believeland. You deserve it.

NOV
14

Homecoming

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I just spent a week in Cleveland. I know it's not home anymore, but it still felt an awful lot like a homecoming. Speaking of homecomings, I should probably have chosen a picture of the Cavs game I was able to go to (what ended up being their first home win with LeBron back...I was in attendance at the last home win he played as a Cavalier before leaving, so it felt only fitting to attend the first win after his return), but instead I'm subjecting you all to the parting gift my office presented me with. 

It's amazing how attached to a city one can get. I loved being back in Cleveland this week, to the point of getting teary when I drove away from the office building for the last time today. It was like moving all over again. And this always happens to me. It doesn't mean that I'm second guessing the exciting new chapter I've just begun, it's just that attachment is emotional, and it runs deep, even if you've already moved on. It doesn't mean I don't love New York, it's just that I loved Cleveland first. It doesn't mean I resist change (I just freaking cut all my hair off, yo), it's just that it's hard to leave places and people that have come to mean something to me.

So here I am. Back in my NYC apartment after having battled an epic taxi line, lugged a 50-pound suitcase up the stairs of my elevatorless building, and endured the welcome home brooming of the woman in the apartment below me who thinks my 6-pound cat makes too much noise. If I show up at her door wearing this shirt, it will not be my fault. Bitch, I'm from Cleveland.

JUL
11

Post Script

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Remember how I said I wasn't sure I wanted him back? Well something about seeing the James jerseys around town, the non-stop chatter and speculation, the various "come home" pleas, Michael Symon's promise of an LBJ burger. Something about all of this made me start hoping in spite of myself. Such that when I heard the news today (I was half naked in an Anthropologie dressing room, by the way, and simply *had* to refresh my phone in case the announcement had been made since my previous check a little while before), I could not stop smiling.

This city loved him so much, and it seems we still do. It seems *I* still do. And considering we (myself included) were the very ones who flocked to the Q when the Heat were in town simply so we could boo every time he had the ball--and he has the ball a lot--this is part confusing, part sickening, but mostly I think it is hopeful. To know that we--all of us, LeBron included--can get over ourselves and move on. Move forward. Move up. Move home. Goodbye, #1 lottery pick. See you never.

 

 

JUL
09

The Obligatory LeBron Post

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OK, fine.

I will answer the big question. (That only one person has asked me.)

I will tell you what I think.

As a Clevelander.

And an NBA fan.

And a stubborn-ass grudge-holding never-forgetter.

Seriously, though. I can be mature. I can admit that having him back would do wonders for this city. I'd also love to start winning some ball games. And of course there's something endearingly Prodigal-sonny about the tale of a young and stupid man making a foolish decision and choosing to make amends a few years later. I'm as sentimental as they come. I could get on board with that.

But I can also admit that I was positively gutted by LeBron's exit, just like the rest of Cleveland. And I was one of the most devoted of fans. Sitting in one of the first few rows at the last home game he ever played as a Cavalier, I had no idea what we were about to lose. And in such epic fashion. And so I confess to you today that the ridiculousness of The Decision has stayed with me, and I'm not sure I want him back.

As for Cleveland getting their hopes up, that's on us, and I think we're pretty stupid if we do. Not because it's not a possibility, but because we've been duped before.

No, I'm not sure I want him back.

Still--full disclosure--I just can't shake this dream of winning.

Make of that what you will.

JAN
25

The LeBron James Bottle of Bubbly

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Something people might not know about me is that I love the NBA. I was able to take in two Cavaliers games this week, and I was reminiscing with my fellow game-goers last night about how wonderful the good years were. The Winning Years. Those couple of years when Cleveland had the best record in the NBA. I’d always had at the top of my bucket list that someday I wanted to be at a game 7 when my team won the championship. It seemed back then like it might be within the realm of possibility.

In my fridge you’ll find a long-expired bottle of bubbly, and it’s the same bottle I bought in the summer of 2010, the bottle I planned to drink when Lebron announced he would be staying in Cleveland. Obviously the bottle was never opened, and for some reason I’ve kept it in my fridge…I guess as some sort of reminder that things change. And that there are horribly inappropriate and ass-like ways to make announcements.

I confess that basketball will always seem a little bit worse to me now. I’ve despised Lebron since he left, which is why I was surprised last night to be flooded with such good memories of him and all the success he brought to this city. I guess no matter how things ended up, the point is that I’ll always have those memories, and they’ll always be good. I’ll always remember what winning so many games felt like, seeing amazing on almost every play, walking through the streets after a second-half comeback win against Boston in game 1 of the first round of playoffs chanting “MVP! MVP!” with a sea of Clevelanders. I’ll always have that. Of course, there’s still the bubbly, which can always be counted on to bring me back down to reality. But not everything is worth hanging onto. And maybe that bottle is one thing I can finally toss out.

FEB
07

Out With the Old

b2ap3_thumbnail_monopoly.jpgWell, it's over. Monopoly has officially booted the Iron game piece in favor of--inexplicably--a cat. Actually, I find the entire line of choices for the proposed new game piece a bit baffling, not to mention the entire concept of consumer voting in these types of decisions. Or maybe what I'm getting at is I don't see the need for these types of decisions in the first place. What was wrong with the old pieces? Or the original M&M colors for that matter? Other than the marketing element meant to generate renewed interest in a classic product, why change at all?

I'm not averse to change, although I do think I struggle with it more than most, and a good portion of that (as I learned from this book) is probably my introversion. Another part of it is that I'm sentimental. I get attached to situations and people I like. When I quit my job to go to business school, I cried like a baby, and it wasn't because I was averse to the changes that business school would bring into my life. It's because I was sad to be leaving a job I loved and the co-workers who had become such good friends to me over the years I had worked there. And on a much smaller scale, I hate when my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers trade players in the name of some sort of overall franchise strategy. Strategy shmategy. Winning record or not, I would prefer to keep the same guys around. Because I get attached to them, dammit, and I wish it could be about playing for a city instead of playing for a championship. (You listening, LBJ?)

The interesting thing about change is that sometimes it is good. But not always. The trick for me and my stubborn, overly-sentimental self is to identify which changes are truly bad ideas (or at least unnecessary) and which ones are good ideas that I would eagerly welcome if I only knew what I was missing. Take technology. I never wanted an iPod, but once someone gave me one, I didn't know how I'd lived without it. I don't have a Smart phone, nor do I have any desire to own one, but maybe it would change my life. For the better. Or at least keep me from grocery store conundrums like buying a cinema gift card for my parents at a theater they would actually have to leave the state in order to use.

My confession to you today is that while I am old-fashioned to the core and hope to always be, there are some things that despite kicking and screaming about how uninteresting, useless, and stupid they are, customers will in actuality snap up like hotcakes once they hit the market. Translation: Sometimes you have to tell customers what they want. It's not always easy, and it doesn't always work (never forget that some changes really are bad), but even just acknowledging that changes we dread or don't want or fight are sometimes exactly what we (and the world) need is a big step. Not that this means I'm OK with the Iron getting booted. But I'll tell you who is. Clementine (pictured below) is delighted with the new game piece. I think she voted more than I did.

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