Whether the weather is the deciding factor

Dec 25, 2005

When we first arrived in Cleveland last week, there was sun, and I was happy. I didn’t much like leaving our home amid the spree of break-ins, but holiday cheer, good cooking, a new baby (Congratulations to Tom and Katie and little Fiona Mae), friends and heated floors beckoned from the Shaughnessy home, and that combination offers a certain seasonal warmth. Actually seeing sunshine in northern Ohio in December was a pleasant surprise.

But the sun only lasted a day or so, and then it was back to the drab grey skies that do nothing but facilitate your sitting inside all day. All that good cooking—grilled leg of lamb, lobster tails, ricotta-stuffed shells, gingerbread cookies—help to anchor you even more to the sofa. With Anna and Malia fighting colds and earaches and eye infections, we’ve been sedentary.

That’s not to say the Shaughnessy home isn’t a hubbub of activity. For Christmas Eve meal, we gathered at the home of Erin’s brother, Michael. He and Kathy served up lobster tails for everyone, and I got to hear more about Mike’s talent for cutting out cataracts (I too briefly mentioned my July observation of Mike in surgery here). He recently treated a close friend of mine, and that friend found out in one of his social groups that Michael is not only a talented surgeon but also one in high demand in Cleveland.

Back on the west side, Tom and Katherine, visiting from their ranch near Big Bend National Park, have been especially entertaining, with a West Texas story or up-and-coming name to share for nearly every topic. Tom’s the general manager of the soon-to-launch Marfa Public Radio. Katherine is the author of a very cool book, , as well as the fire behind Wool and Hoop.

Yesterday, their friend Dave Kajganich stopped in. Dave’s a college friend of Katherine, and now a hot Hollywood screenwriter who did the script for the remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

While the girls napped today, I snuck out for a mocha, heading first to the nearby Common Grounds coffeeshop, thinking I’d support a local business. It won’t be a shop I support again—it was filled with chain smokers doing crossword puzzles (I hate smoking, but I’m cool with crosswords), and my first sip of the mocha put a stiff hair on my tongue. I spit that out, tossed my mocha, and got back in my car.

Next stop was Tremont, the gritty near-west neighborhood where I once shared an apartment with Kevin Biacsi and where my friend Joe Cimperman currently lives. It took me a few turns around the neighborhood to find Lucky’s Cafe, but I was glad to step in out of the windy grey blanketing the city. The mocha at Lucky’s was delicious and hairless. (Lucky’s has free wifi, part of the Tremont Wireless Internet Neighborhood Network.)

As I drove home, I found myself thinking on the ongoing dilemma Erin and I face: after law school, do we stay in North Carolina, return to Cleveland or move elsewhere? Cleveland’s weather often depresses me. But the family and friends here certainly add a richness to life regardless of the lack of sunshine. North Carolina is home now, and I miss it. And other islands, and cities on other continents, call me.

(My own parents struggled with a similar dilemma, deciding to leave St. Croix and make a home in DeKalb. After a lifetime on Chicago’s south side, my dad hated the cold weather, and the islands eventually got him back.)

John Ettorre reminds me all the time how one can gracefully work and live and raise a family and make the most of a city like Cleveland. Erin and I were supposed to meet up with John and his family for dinner last week. We bagged out because of the girls’ illnesses. The next morning, John’s father-in-law passed away. Read John’s elegant tribute to William Kerrigan.

Sunshine, I’m reminded, often comes from within.

Anton Zuiker

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