Editor’s Note: Unlike most of our articles, this is a first-person essay.
One of my favorite trips was with my wife (then girlfriend) to my hometown of New Jersey in 2017.
I had lived in Iowa for about four years and worked as a television reporter. She has lived in Iowa for most of her life, with a brief stint in Omaha, Nebraska. She had never been to “The City” before and certainly had never visited it with a seasoned professional like me. In New Jersey, no other city is this big, so you don’t need to include “New York” when declaring your destination.
We marveled at Times Square as we pointed to the building where the crystal ball falls to mark each new year. We visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and explained how our families came to the United States. We strolled through Trinity Church and Wall Street, marveling at the graves and places made alive in American consciousness by the hit Broadway show Hamilton. We darkly walked through the Ground Zero Memorial where we found the handful of names related to our family in various ways that I research every year on September 11th. No one grew up in my part of New Jersey and doesn’t know at least a few people who died that day.
The trip showed a lot of what I think is great about New York to my girlfriend from Iowan. Ever since I moved away from the “tri-state area” when I graduated from college, I felt like I had a right to enjoy it as a tourist, shamelessly throwing my head back to admire the height of buildings in a way that native New Yorkers would. (and did) make fun of.
It doesn’t matter. New York is one of the coolest places in the world.
This is why I was particularly frustrated when the official New York City Government Twitter account sent a photo of an overcast New York sky with the caption: “A dark day in New York is always better than ‘a sunny day in Cleveland.
I’m sure New Yorkers loved it – I would have been there with them a few years ago, before I knew enough about the shapes of the Midwestern states to distinguish them from each other or pinpoint the general location. of any Midwestern town. But the facts remain that this was an attempt at a cheap laugh and that hitting a small town is a bad look.
New Yorkers are not bad people. Much of my family proudly wears this classification. But they have a perspective that justifies the shifts they take from the rest of the nation.
Novelist John Updike is credited with the following quote: “The real New Yorker secretly believes that people who live elsewhere must, in a certain sense, be joking.”
This belief manifests itself in the feeling that when New Yorkers travel elsewhere, everyone wants them too to leave where they grew up and come back “home” to New York. I had the same feeling until Iowa became my home, before living at the addresses of Cleveland and Lakewood, Ohio.
This was on display on a trip I took to Italy when a perfectly friendly, but noisy, couple from Brooklyn joined our pizza-making class in Florence. Without a hint of irony, they told our Italian pizza-making guides how great the dollar slices were around the corner from their New York apartment.
New Yorkers think everyone is so impressed with their “New Yorkness” that nothing else matters. I’m sure some people feel that way, but it doesn’t occur to many New Yorkers that most people don’t care. New York is just another big city to them, maybe bigger than Los Angeles and Chicago, but not at all that matters to people in Dubuque, Iowa or Mansfield, Ohio.
As Cleveland erupted over the New York tweet, the NE Ohio Regional Sewer District (whose social media genius we have long recognized at News 5) hit back and the Ohio social media sensation. Mr. Yacht promised to roast New York, it is the New Yorkers who are missing.
They’re the ones who miss the hidden gems of a place like Northeast Ohio, or the Iowa RAGBRAI tradition, which connects various communities across Iowa with nothing but bikes and lots of it. of sweaty cyclists.
RELATED: 100 hidden gems of Cleveland
A refreshing contrast to this is my Hoboken-based best man making sure to take a detour to Playhouse Square when he visits to see the chandelier.
Which brings me – I promise you, it’s going somewhere – to my wedding, when many of my New York-based friends first came to Iowa and toured the city with their new bike program. self-service and found downtown to be a lot cooler than they imagined, simply because they finally experienced it.
The rehearsal dinner hosted a hilarious conversation about regional speech patterns, where our guests from New York and the Midwest wondered about saying different words that highlighted their different pronunciations. This should not be confused with the big cultural exchange programs that try to quell conflicts in other parts of the world, but everyone learned a bit about everyone else that night.
The highlight was when one of our New York guests reflected in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when she said, “They call it a city, but, you know …” , 5 million New York.
It was hilarious for me as I rode the ditch, but it sparked a conversation later about this journey my future wife and I took two years ago. She enthusiastically recounted to a group of guests who claim New York City as their region how she visited the Statue of Liberty and loved the view it offers of lower Manhattan and was slowly building her “East Coast credit.” “.
My longtime New Jersey friends fell silent before sheepishly admitting that they still hadn’t been to the Statue of Liberty.
The recurring flaw with many New Yorkers is that they’ve appointed themselves as judges of what’s cool and the only two rules are: anything that isn’t New York-centric is not invited to the table. party, and if you have a problem with that, fuggetaboutit.
Our wedding showed that even New Yorkers don’t always know what’s cool, even when he’s 305 feet tall in the middle of New York Harbor.
Cleveland’s responses to the tweet that sparked these thoughts were, as you might expect, fantastic.
My mortgage is $ 500 / month for a +2000 SF 1896 Victorian and I can walk to the beach in ten minutes.
How’s your rent?
– vi er røde vi er hvide🇩🇰 (@TheeFerringer) July 3, 2021
Among many things, Cleveland is good enough to defend its honor. The Indians, Browns and Cavs have all given the city plenty of opportunities to hone these skills, although less so in recent years.
Something about northeast Ohio is converting its transplants. Some of Greater Cleveland’s greatest champions, I’ve noticed, are people who aren’t from here and are frustrated with the self-deprecation Ohioans sometimes fall back on and want it to be an even better place to live. Just like the conversion of my witness, it only takes one trip.
So, we should enjoy Cleveland’s collective applause at the misguided New York tweet, but then we should turn off our phones and use the extra money we’re not paying to rent studio-sized closets to enjoy the vacations. weekend.
And when you can, invite your friends from the east coast for a visit to see what Cleveland really is. If nothing else, they’ll appreciate the square footage.
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