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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JUN
17

Picture This

Picture booking a trip to Cleveland for game 6 of the NBA finals and then realizing with your team down 3-0 that game 6 is likely not to happen. Picture changing your plans at the last minute and booking the last seat on a plane to Cleveland for game 4. Picture lugging the dresses and heels and suits you wore over a week-long work trip with you across the country, as the last minute-ness of the change in plans doesn't allow you to go home first.

Picture upsetting your ex's family by asking in this state of last minute-ness (ie. no hotels available) if you can crash with them for a night. Picture sobbing in an airport bathroom when you realize the door to their friendship is no longer open, even though this is probably as it always should have been.

Picture getting pulled over in Cleveland and trying to get out of a ticket when you say you're here for "the game" and have a California drivers license. Picture the Cavs shirt you're wearing saving the day. Because it does.

Picture winning.

Of course, I could tell you to picture it all falling apart in the next game anyway, but that really doesn't matter. Because if you can picture 20,000+ fans erupting in unison after each (record-breaking) three-pointer, if you can picture being unable to keep yourself from jumping to your feet every possession, if you can picture the glee in watching Steph Curry momentarily being made to look like a lost little boy, if you can picture hope and belief in their most unadulterated forms ("Cavs in se-ven!"), then you will have gotten what you came for.

So picture that.

 

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.

MAR
16

No. 1 Seed

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I love March Madness. I really do. Considering that I much prefer the NBA to college ball, it really all just comes down to the competition of it all; the fact that with a bracket, I get to have my own say. And I like winning things. Especially coming off of my Oscar season ballot (which, incidentally, didn't do so well for me this year...stupid Birdman sweeping in and winning everything), I'm partial to major events on which I can wager a guess...and potentially perform better than all my friends. (Note: I have only won a March Madness pool once, and it was quite possibly the best day of my life.)

Of course there's a more wistful reason why I love March Madness, the simple reason being that doing well requires you to bet against the odds. True that no 16 seed has ever beat a 1 seed, but there also hasn't been a single year where all four no. 1 seeds made it to the final four. So, see? It's a competition that actually requires risk-taking in order to be successful. And to me, that's a good parallel for life. Of course, you're talking to the girl that recently quit her job in order to pursue a dream, so of course you're going to get that from me. The point is, we should take more risks. The trouble with the bracket is that there are so many potential upsets that it's hard to know which ones to choose. And so we go with the safest, surest path (picking all no. 1 seeds) because we're not sure what else to do and we just want to minimize the damage.

I'll certainly be the first to admit that no one is ever sure. You can research, you can have hunches, you can have favorites, but at the end of the day, you can't know. You just have to start picking. And if you pick only the top seeds, you are guaranteed to be wrong. Guaranteed. So think about that. Not only as you fill out your bracket, but also as you approach this next season of life. Pick a few upsets. They might pay off.

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.

JUN
21

It's Over

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Remember that scene on Searching for Bobby Fischer where the parents have been banned from the chess tournament and are getting their updates on the championship match from the little boy who keeps running into the room with the latest play?

"Queen takes pawn."

"Josh is in trouble. He's down another pawn."

"Knight takes rook."

"Petey just hung his rook!"

And then the final announcement, the boy not running this time, rather walking slowly and with his head hung low: "It's over."

I've felt like this boy as I've written to my brother (who currently can only get letters and is pretty much cutoff from all media outlets) and given him an update after each of the games in the NBA finals. We both wanted the Spurs to win (as I hope the majority of the world did), so it was fun to report such tidbits as, "Spurs win game 1!" and "Spurs win game 5! They lead 3-2!" And considering that Fischer was a favorite family movie growing up, I have no doubt that he'll know exactly what happened when he reads my post script on today's letter. "It's over."

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