Today is my 24th anniversary of becoming a Greater Clevelander. Wow! That is a MAJOR chunk of my LIFE! Why I decided to move from sunny southern California to NE Ohio on the first week of December in an ice storm now eludes my memory. But on my first night in the home I’d bought—I had only a week’s worth of clothing, a sleeping bag and my computer—I looked out the window at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, covered with snow, and thought “What in HELL convinced you to move here???” After all, I had a few acquaintances in Cleveland, and that was it. So I thought, “Well, I’m stuck here for two years—then I can sell the house and move somewhere else.”
That was 24 years ago today, and I’m still here. My love for the city began when I was in Cleveland four years earlier, creating and getting on its feet the Cash Explosion Show for the Ohio Lottery. (OMG, it’s STILL running every week!!) It impressed me so much that when I returned to Los Angeles, I began writing mystery novels set in Cleveland, featuring Slovenian-American Clevelander Milan Jacovich. But I kept returning to Cleveland for research and for promoting the early books, and finally decided to move here permanently.
It was far and away the best thing I ever did with my life. Born and raised in Chicago, living ten years in New York and 24 years in Los Angeles, I discovered that Cleveland was indeed the best-kept secret. I’ve loved every moment here—even the cancer scare 17 years ago and the open heart surgery in 2009. I’ve made dozens of VERY good friends, fallen hopelessly in love with the most beautiful, kindest, most talented and most intelligent woman I’ve EVER known (and we look forward to our FIFTEENTH anniversary in February), moved from a home that was too big to take care of into a spacious apartment overlooking a pond with Canada geese visiting every morning for me to feed them breakfast, and yet 40 minutes from Cleveland’s Public Square, a place where my heart beats a little harder and my blood moves a little faster every time I look at the skyline. It’s also a place that inspires my work every day of my life. When I leave Cleveland for good—and that’s not until I’m 104 years old, shot dead by a jealous husband—it will be in an URN.
So this IS a very happy anniversary for me, and I sincerely thank ALL the people in Greater Cleveland I’ve come to love and admire, the ones who support me and what I do,the actors and artists and writers and musicians and journalists who entertain and enlighten me and make me smile, the politicians I have come to call good friends (really!!!), the doctors who saved my life and my sight at the best hospital in America, and my neighbors and coffee pals and drinking buddies who offer so much to my everyday existence.
I wanted to thank ALL of you, too, those of you who love me, or like me, or those I occasionally piss off. A la Jerry McGuire: You complete me.
Now—this is my 24th NE Ohio anniversary. 24th is no big deal. However, next year will be my TWENTY-FIFTH Cleveland celebration. So—who’s planning the party????
With much love,