by Jennifer Bowman
The place of your residence always has some sort of permanent effect on you. When I moved back to Cleveland from Tallahassee, I don't know quite what I expected. I was slightly irritated that I had to move on my birthday, but other than that, it was fine. Additionally, it was rather hard for me to leave my best friends in Florida, but you know, I'm just kind of used to it by now.
As my days in this newfound/oldfound town continued, I discovered an unexpected emotion: happiness. My old friends were excited to meet me and introduce me to their new friends, and soon, I had more to do than I could ever remember. Reconnecting with people fills my heart with joy, and despite my awkwardness around new friends, I still enjoy the feeling I get whenever someone actually wants to talk to me. I can recall all the things and people about Cleveland that made me so… content.
Everyone is friendly. No one will turn you down for a conversation, and everyone tends to treat you with politeness, and genuine concern for your own personal well-being. The cliché about southern hospitality is true, and that's something for which I am completely thankful.
The atmosphere just immediately makes you feel at home. I find this true not only for myself, but for others. I am currently attending a program at Lee University called Summer Honors, where you stay on campus for two weeks and attend classes, stay in dorms, and partake in several fun activities. (And for six credit hours, it's worth the price.) And regardless of where they're from, they take to this growing, but ever-quaint town of Cleveland, Tennessee, even though the name makes everyone assume they are from Ohio.
I can't imagine life without my hometown. It is the epitome of my existence, and it's worth the complication whenever I have to explain that yes, I grew up in Cleveland, and yes, I just moved here, too, and uh, actually, my parents followed me to college, it was really just a big coincidence that they were moving here too, and yeah, it kinda irritates me. But I love my parents, I love my hometown, and so far, I love Lee University.
Even though Tallahassee actually had two decent malls, I still enjoy hanging out at K-Mart with really cool people on Sunday afternoon when the mall's already closed. I like the fact that I can't go to Wal-Mart without seeing someone I know, and that hang out spots aren't clubs or some rich kid's house - they're at little places like Waffle House and "The DQ" and Steak 'n Shake. I like the churches. I like Pentecostal jokes that no one else would appreciate. I like seeing mountains on an Interstate instead of flat land.
Basically, I'm thrilled to be back. Tallahassee will always have a piece of my heart, but Cleveland will always be the place where my heart feels at rest.