*This post is sponsored by Ohio. Find it Here. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I had just finished my first year in high school when our family decided to move to Ohio. It was a bitter-sweet time in our lives—we were moving away from friends and family but also excited to embark on a new adventure. At the time, my sister and I felt so conflicted that we couldn’t bring ourselves to break the news of the move to our childhood best friends, who are also sisters. We waited until the end of summer before we finally built up the courage to tell them—blurting out the news in tears with no warning or context whatsoever—but to our complete surprise, our friends bellowed that they too were moving! And not only were they also moving to Ohio, but they would also be moving to the same town as us! At first, my sister and I thought our friends were playing a trick on us, and this was their way of helping us cope because what are the odds this could happen? It wasn’t until their mother confirmed their story that we finally jumped for joy at the fact that we were all going to continue being neighbors!
Our two families separately but simultaneously reached the point where we were open to pursuing new and greater opportunities. It happens that those opportunities were available in Cleveland, Ohio. Although we were staying in the Midwest and were still close to a major city, we knew it would be a significant change and were admittedly nervous and concerned. After all, we were a generational Chicago family, and, outside of Ohio and at that time, Cleveland’s reputation was not what it is today.
So, what won us over?
My first memories of Ohio, specifically Cleveland, come from several frequent visits we made that spring and summer to explore the city. We have always been a huge sports family and immediately felt it was a good omen that Cleveland, despite its comparably smaller size to Chicago, had three major sports teams! We figured Cleveland had to be a major sports town but didn’t know what to expect. During those visits, my dad took us to several Cavs and Indians (now Guardians) games. Although football and basketball will always be my favorite sports, I must credit those Indians’ games for making me a baseball fan. Back in Chicago, our family rooted for the White Sox and had little to no opinion about the Cubs. But in Cleveland, the Indians were beloved by everyone. And Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field but will forever be the Jake to me) was always packed and full of energy. I knew I was starting to come around to the idea of moving to Cleveland when Grady Sizemore became my favorite baseball player. It was a different sports experience for me.
Up until then, I had only ever rooted for a big city sports team, but then I find myself somehow more emotionally invested. I realized I was no longer just rooting for the team but for the city. I quickly understood why locals wore shirts that read “Cleveland against the world”—in every game, no matter the sport, there was a hidden David vs. Goliath storyline going on in the background, and for the first time, I was on David’s side.
Of course, nothing compares to the Cavs games we attended. I am so thankful for the memories we made watching LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejão, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, and Drew Gooden take Cleveland to its first NBA Finals appearance. While
Michael Jordan will always be this Chicago girl’s first love, watching LeBron James win the conference title that year was amazing. Those games also hold a special place in my heart for another reason—unbeknownst to me, I was not only in the same building as my future husband, but he was sitting in the section right in front of us! It wasn’t until years later, while reminiscing over pictures, that we found him in the background!
So that did it. Our family fell in love with Ohio, and the decision was made final. We moved to Cleveland later that summer and quickly started to convince our Chicago family and friends to come to visit.
Although it was not my decision to move to Ohio, I now realize it was the best place and time for my family to move there. I think most people would agree that moving in the middle of high school sounds like a nightmare! And believe me; initially, I thought it would be! But looking back now, I credit our move to Ohio as being the spark that ignited my transformation into the person I am today. Deciding to move can be stressful, and the timing may never fully feel right, but I have come to understand that there’s hardly ever a perfect time for a significant change. The best thing you can do is to keep looking forward and believe that you and your family will end up exactly where you’re supposed to. For us, Ohio ended up being that perfect place.