It’s about time that we begin to acknowledge that area codes have become as important a part of our identity as what NFL team’s bumper sticker we have on our second beater car. (I mean, come on, you’re not putting a bumper sticker on the nice car you driving to your cousin’s wedding in.)
In fact, with cell phones now, people hold onto their phone numbers long after they have left the place. My oldest daughter, who went to college and worked in the San Francisco area for ten years, moved to Brooklyn four and a half years ago. Her cell number still starts with 415, the coveted area code for San Francisco.
Why not give it up? Why not just get a New York area code? Well, because, I believe, the area code has become a part of our identity in this era. Oh, someone says to her in New York City after she gives them her number, what area code is that? San Francisco, she says. They’ll smile. So you’re from San Francisco? Yup, she says and smiles back. Suddenly you know a lot more about that person than a hundred questions on a dating site will ever reveal. It means my home is elsewhere. This is where I live now, but I’m really from the 415. It’s who I am.
So maybe LeBron going home to Cleveland also is about reclaiming the 216 as the authentic area code of his soul.