Monday, March 8, 2010

"Hello, Cleveland!!!"

I moved to Cleveland, TN believing I had all the answers – turns out, I didn’t even know the questions. Which brings me to the title of this post: “Hello, Cleveland!” The 1980’s mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap” is about an aging British metal band. They are playing in Cleveland, Ohio and get lost within the venue. At one point they are energetically opening every door they can find and shouting, “Hello, Cleveland!”- hoping to hear the screams of the throngs of adoring fans. Time after time the door opens to a closet, bathroom, or dressing room. It’s a hilarious puzzle they cannot solve; much like me in Cleveland.
The “Greater Tri State”…
The physical move from Denton to Cleveland was like most - confusing and dramatic. All moves are. Not sure if I had an ordinary chaotic move or chaotic ordinary move.

I found Cleveland to be a beautiful little town full of trees, wildlife and mountains. Totally unlike Texas. You can see mountains from three sides of my house. We are located in the area where Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia meet. Fondly called “the greater tri-state area”.

I found Cleveland to be a pleasant southern town. This is a place where people are quick with a “Yes ma’am,” eager to help you put groceries in your car or invite you to church. This is a land of sweet tea, curb markets with fresh vegetables, SEC Football, fried chicken, pickled okra, boiled peanuts, and church on Sunday and Wednesday. They have both faith and patriotism to spare.

Footloose town????

Many here seldom or don’t dance – ever. This is partly due to the prominence of a Christian denomination with which I am largely unfamiliar. I am the Wren McCormack of Cleveland, TN. How someone has never heard music and moved rhythmically to the beat, I’ll never know. So I, trying to peddle my dance based fitness program to people who don’t dance has been problematic. I knew I’d show up and say, “I teach Jazzercise!” and students would come in droves. Not so much… I hear their thoughts, “Who’s the jezebel from Dallas in her spandex pants and brightly colored shirt and loud music?” But, I have managed to find a small group of Cleveland expatriates who will take my class in engage in the forbidden dancing with me.

After a certain age I always thought that finding my niche in a new place and my tribe of friends and acquaintances would never be a problem again. More than ever I’ve felt like the new girl in the 5th grade- unliked, inadequate and longing to sit at the “cool” table for lunch. Again, just like 5th grade, there have been lots of tears, lots of screams and lots of aching to make me or my life different. Most of all I wanted a friend.

Life is an adventure.
Those who know me even a little know that I enjoy being out of doors for a only limited period of time. Much to my chagrin, Tennessee is full of outdoor adventures. In the past year I’ve spent more time outside than in the past 10 years combined. We have been hiking, climbing and walking. We have explored caves with lakes in them, caves with waterfalls in them and caves with nothing in them. I’ve been terrified on suspension bridges, rock faces and incline railways. I even nearly drowned white water rafting. There may be a divorce pending because of that one. 

When I get truly low, God puts someone in front of me and my pain and problems are dwarfed by theirs. There was the lady who came to my class who has two adopted special needs children. Her sister made her attend because she never does anything for herself. She cried the whole class because she hadn’t really seen herself and her weight in the mirror. And the lady who, in her first class, told me of the most colossal tragedy she had recently endured. She had gained weight and has decided to continue living and wants to loose the weight. I see her tears during slower songs.

As for me, I’m making headway finding by Cleveland tribe. With a strong dose of faith, humor and chardonnay, I’ll persevere. The dancing might be a struggle I might not win. But there’s only one thing I can do. In true “Spinal Tap” fashion, I’m going to CRANK IT UP TO 11!

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