Being the only stop in Ohio, Cleveland was sure to lend itself to my only impression of Ohio. Unfair? Yes. If I live to be 109 maybe I’ll do a second 48 state road trip and see more of what I missed.
Or just let it be.
This city was to be the host of my second AirBnb reservation ever. The woman who rented me a room was very sweet. I had little trouble finding her house and was grateful and surprised that she let me park in her driveway. For some reason that feels a tad more “secure” to me. Ridiculous, I know, but hear me out. I feel like by having my Forester in a driveway it may be perceived that I am a relative visiting from out of town as opposed to an AirBnB tourist. Okay, no. Now that I have typed that out it sounds a little stupid. My California plates and the storage bag on top of the car make me stick out. No matter, I am going to continue believing this obtuse logic and go on accepting invitations to park in driveways.
My host was very sweet. After walking into the house I was welcomed by both her and a white board mounted on the front room wall with a “Welcome Lauren!” To this day it still makes my heart swell with love and a twinge of sadness. This woman was a single mother to her adorable, elementary-aged son, making a little extra cash by renting out an extra room from time to time, and the act of writing my name on a board feels profound to me. It is one of the most unexpected, bittersweet gestures I have ever been on the receiving end of.
After settling in I set off for a sushi restaurant downtown. It was just what I needed: inexpensive, filled with college kids, and had plenty of window seats for abundant people watching. Before leaving the house I had the urge to grab a drink at a bar after dinner, but overindulging on sushi rolls made me retreat back to home base.
The next morning I slipped out and drove to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Holy mackerel, what an astounding museum. I have never seen so much, and such diverse musical memorabilia and archives in one place. There are literally walls of hundreds of iconic stage outfits, concert posters, and musical instruments of nearly every musical artist or act relevant in American culture.
One such wall was in a dark hallway and had hundreds of illuminated autographs on glass. They were sorted in alphabetical order so you could search for your favorite artists, but I poured over all of them. My favorite was Stevie Wonder’s. He’s one of my favorite musical entertainers of all time. When I came upon his autograph I stopped and admired his it. I know this is an ignorant assumption, but I was surprised at how well his signature was written. I mean, if I was blind since childhood I’m sure my signature would be atrocious. Stevie’s was unique, just like everyone else’s, but more legible than a lot of the full-sighted musicians. I never imagined being struck by such a simple thing, but it was a good lesson about assumptions.
There was a room dedicated to Elvis memorabilia and had a continuous, documentary playing on a large screen. I have always casually liked Elvis, but never took a serious interest in him. After standing and watching the mini-documentary on him for about twenty minutes I was fascinated. Watching video footage of him perform it is hard to deny his genuine “it factor.” That man was born to perform. He captivated me while I stood in a museum in 2016, so I can finally fathom the pandemonium he caused when we was alive during his career.
Another exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has stage costumes from such mega stars as Beyonce, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and Cher. To see such iconic, over the top, creative wardrobe pieces up close is surreal.
I zipped through the museum in just a few hours but would have loved to spend an entire day (or two) there. Afterward I drove over to the highly recommended West Side Market. A handful of people and some internet sources had insisted that the market was a must-see. It is located in an incredibly busy area of the city and I struggled to find parking. After driving around for nearly half an hour I gave up. I needed to get on the road for my next destination anyway. I looped back around to a main street so I could make my way to the freeway. The lane I was in was ending so I put on my blinker and started to try and merge into the lane to my left. A man in a small white car behind and to the left of me scooted up to purposefully block me from completing my merge. I muttered “thanks asshole,” forgetting my window was rolled down. I’m not sure if he heard me or not but he screamed “What the FUCK!” Clearly he was either unhinged or woke up on the wrong side of the bed. All I know is that it’s best to give someone like that as much space as possible. No sense in ruining my day as well.
I found a noticeable amount of Cleveland drivers were equally aggressive in their driving style so I was anxious to get out of the city limits. Being from California I am used to drivers speeding and not always being curteous, but damn Cleveland, y’all need to calm down before you get an aneurysm. (If you’re reading this and from Cleveland, please be sure to correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just downtown that’s especially crazy with aggressive driving.)
“The image is one thing and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image, put it that way.” – Elvis Presley