Cuyahoga Falls: (n) a city in Northeast Ohio, near Akron
The reason essays are often long is because the author feels compelled to place the reader in the exact moment and space of a given time.
Suffice it to say, today I am talking about a season in our history when boys were dying in Vietnam, hippies were walking the streets and young lads and lasses from the Midwest were desperately trying to be neither.
I grew up in Ohio.
Ohio insists it’s a single state, but anyone who lives there knows differently.
If you lived in Columbus, you might as well be from Iowa, or any other Midwest hold-out to social progress.
If you lived in Cincinnati, you were more like Dixie, with grits in your teeth.
And to the far north was Cleveland, which desperately tried to imitate New York City, complete with crime and a filthy Lake Erie to mirror the polluted Hudson.
I lived right in the center.
No, it’s true. My hometown was exactly ten miles from the geographical center of Ohio. That in itself should have afforded me great honor, but I was stuck, like everyone else, trying to prove myself and do the best with the talent shoveled in my direction.
Mine was music.
But my music was not quite suited to the genre that was rattling and reeling in the time capsule of hippies and soldiers.
So one day, I wiggled my way into scheduling a coffee house in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio—very near Akron. I didn’t know much about the place and they didn’t know much about me.
So my little band, excited about actually going somewhere to play a road gig, dressed up.
For the guys, that was pants and a long-sleeved shirt with a tie.
And for the ladies—well, they basically wore their prom dresses.
We arrived at the coffee house, which was called Avalon, and everybody there was in bell-bottom blue jeans, t-shirts, with long hair and sneers.
It was a long night.
Every song we tried was met with chuckles and everything we said was ignored, as they turned to one another and carried on conversations.
I became angry, mainly because I was young, foolish and felt it was my right to be offended.
I told them they were a bunch of snobs. I also told them they didn’t have the wardrobe for it.
This was my first and only laugh of the night.
The proprietor of the coffeehouse stood to his feet and said, “Be cool, fool. You just don’t fit in here.”
He was right—while simultaneously being wrong.
Because if we’re waiting for everyone to mature or expand to be welcomed into our little utopia, we’ve missed the whole point of having one.
A utopia is meant to be a place where anyone is welcome without fear.