Lakewood Is My Hometown But Cleveland is My Home

Lakewood Is My Hometown, But Cleveland Is My Home

As it's said by many before: home is a feeling, not a place.

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I grew up in Lakewood, Ohio. My parents moved there after I was born. We spent the first six months living in a double, and then moved into a bungalow house of their own, which I have spent the last 22 years of my life living in. They were drawn to Lakewood because it was an up and coming city, with excellent school ratings, and as new parents, that was very important.

About two years later, my little sister was born. I've shared bits and pieces of her story with readers and how she was extremely medically fragile with a condition called Pfieffer's Syndrome. My parents did the best they could to help me have a "normal" childhood and upbringing, though I always felt I was a part of two separate worlds, which included my school life and home life. I couldn't really talk to my friends about what was happening at home because it was too hard to explain, and I felt they wouldn't understand.

Down the street was a girl who became my best friend, though we've now grown a part due to different attitudes, values, and priorities. Ironically, my first semester at Cleveland State University, was her last semester, and every study date I tried to set up with her was cancelled last minute or forgotten about.

Two of the other girls that belonged to this group my best friend had created, bought an apartment together on the edge of Lakewood and Cleveland. They threw a Halloween party, taking place my first semester at CSU, and didn't invite me. I was so hurt because they knew that was my favorite holiday and they called me their "best friend." That's not how you treat a best friend.

Elementary school was filled with nurses in and out of my house. Middle school was the year my sister passed away and my younger brother was only a few years old. I was so insecure and mainly kept to myself, until the best friend I had mentioned before invited me to sit with her and "the group" at lunch and I finally felt accepted.

High school brought its own set of serious issues. Freshman year of high school, I joined swim team because two members of the group wanted to join, and I was so self-conscious because of my body type. I started to develop serious mental health issues. The next three years were filled with mood swings and self-destructive behavior, and my mental illness was so severe I was home-schooled for junior and senior year. I was able to graduate with a diploma, thank goodness, but missed out on many of the "traditional" experiences so many other people hold close to their hearts.

I was just grateful to just be done with high school and start a new chapter in college. I went to community college, earned my associate degree, then transferred to Cleveland State University. In my last semester, I am now living on campus, and ironically, my two roommates and the rest of my floor are all freshman. I can't complain because we get along great. Since I have the convenience of being on campus 24/7, I've been the most involved in student life and my sorority.

With living on campus and getting involved, I've begun to feel closer to the city of Cleveland than ever, and have had the chance to be a part of so much more.

The friendships I've created are lasting, genuine, reciprocal, and real. I have nothing against Lakewood. It's where I grew up, but it is not my home. There's too much loss and heartache associated with that place for me to call it home. It's merely a place to me now though I do enjoy the hidden gems and the city of Lakewood, itself. The good memories and positive friendships I made in Lakewood are precious to me.

However, with that in mind, Cleveland is more my home now, more than Lakewood ever was. And that's because home is a feeling, not a place.

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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I'm 20 Years Old And Still Love Dying Easter Eggs

Who doesn't love this historic tradition?

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Easter has always been an important holiday in my household. It holds both the religious and family aspects. However, there is one tradition that I still hold very close to my heart.

My favorite part about Easter is getting to paint the eggs. Not an Easter has passed that my family hasn't partaken in it. I look forward to it each year, and it wouldn't be Easter without them.

Every year the designs become more and more intricate. The weeks leading up to Easter, I look up different designs on Pinterest in preparation for the "big day". Nothing can make me more excited about this holiday.

Now, that I'm away at college, we have to plan when these traditions will take place. It becomes hard trying to fit in a week's worth of stuff over one weekend, but this will not be missed.

Fitting an entire Easter dinner the night before Easter and dying eggs all in the same day, but it will be done. I love getting to become creative on such a silly thing.

In all the years I've been dying the eggs, I don't think I've ever actually eaten the egg after I've been too afraid to crack into the beautifully decorated egg. Also, hard-boiled eggs are not exactly appetizing to me either.

As I'm getting older, it's even more important that I carry on these traditions. Something so small as dying eggs holds a lot of meaning, and I enjoy having time put aside each year to spend it with my parents.

Going from a little kid who loved to drop the eggs in multiple color dye and drawing crazy pictures, to being in college and still wanting to continue on the tradition.

So yes, I'm 20 and still enjoy partaking in a little kid activity. Through my eyes though, it's so much more. It's carrying on a tradition and getting to spend time with my parents. I couldn't ask for anything better this Easter season.

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