Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is It Me, Or Is It Cleveland?

So I was over at the West Side Market, in line at City Roast, and the woman from Reilly's came over and got in line behind me. It was a long line, it always is, and after a minute she started fretting that she couldn't leave her stand for too long.

"Give me your money and tell me what you want" I said. "I'll get it for you and bring it back."

"Are you sure?"

"Well, yeah. Besides we have this relationship based on my weekly addiction to the empire biscuits." And I pulled my hand out of my pocket to show her one I had just bought, because nothing's better than the vanilla latte and an empire biscuit.

She laughed at me and handed me a tenner and told me what kind of coffee to get her and said thanks.

Those of you who've known me a while knows that this sort of thing happens a lot. I start conversations with strangers, I offer to help, I joke, I smile, and people mostly talk to me. The question is this: is it me or is it Cleveland? Is Cleveland a friendly town?

Because I like this aspect of my personality, and I don't want to lose it. I don't want to wind up cranky and intolerant and businesslike. And I worry that when I move I'll be in a new place and people will be unfriendly and mean and I'll be out of place again. Even if I am out of place in Cleveland, I at least know the town. Back in the NJ area, I get the feeling that this bubbly flirtiness isn't appreciated, or maybe it just wasn't appreciated coming from me.

The thing is, that I do this at all is sort of a huge 180 from my personality when I was young. I was shy, incredibly socially awkward, was bullied, teased, stalked, and taken advantage of numerous times. I was a weirdo. I have lots of anxiety and I'm introverted and talking to people, even simple things like asking the time or directions, stressed me out. The only talking I could do was in English class. Social anxiety is a bitch. Now it's only bigger talking to people that freaks me out, which is a huge improvement. Like online dating. I know, I know.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time for a compromise: stay in Cleveland where you have good vibe, but start the online dating (w/ the Cleveland vibe working to your advantage).

Genevieve said...

I do this in New York and get good reactions too, although more in Brooklyn than Manhattan. I don't think it's Cleveland. I got it (friendly conversations with strangers) even more in Portland and in the south than I ever did in Cleveland.

Also, in contrast to Anonymous, I think if you try to stay in Cleveland until your house sells/the economy gets better or whatever reason to stay, you will get stuck there for life, or at least for a long time. Starting new is scary, but I think it is worth it, and maybe you can find somewhere that appreciates your personality even more :)