A heart carved in a tree --- Image by © Joshua Dalsimer/Corbis

Image by © Joshua Dalsimer/Corbis

Don’t carve that into a tree trunk just yet.

My hometown is halfway between Columbus and Cleveland so quite a few Clevelanders stop by for a bite to eat. When I reveal that I recently moved to Lakewood, their eyes light up and out pours a flood of advice and support. There are always so. many. questions. Where are you living? How do you like it? Have you been to West Side Market yet? What about an Indians game?

At first I didn’t understand why they were so interested. Why were they pulling out their phones and pointing fingers at different places I should visit? Why were they so invested in my future?

I think it’s because Clevelanders enjoy rooting for an underdog.

They want you to succeed. They want you to explore and grow and prosper and taste every damn sandwich this city has to offer, because they’re all exceptionally good. All I had to do was a little digging and I found gems like Lakewood Park, Happy Dog and Edgewater Live.

I’ve always enjoyed being perceived as an underdog — stealthily scoping out the situation before subtly revealing my strengths. I actually prefer it. But Cleveland takes it to another level.

To top off my growing excitement, I’ve been going through Step Up Downtown’s Vision and Tactical Plan for Cleveland. Their goal is to better connect the pockets of entertainment downtown in order to increase tourism within the next few years.

Now I’m not saying that Cleveland is the best city in the world. It’s probably not. Apparently these are the best cities in the world. I’m just saying there’s an unexpected loveliness to Cleveland that I can’t quite yet put my finger on.