There must be one of those unwritten laws of the universe that holds "if you drive on a Thruway, there will be a major thunderstorm during the exact hours you are hurtling down the road at 70 miles an hour." Two weeks ago when we went to western Pennsylvania to see my cousin it poured and today as I drove west across upstate New York it poured.
When I got near Binghamton the grey skies parted and the sun came out. They sky was the color of my son's eyes and there were big white fluffy Simpson clouds. Now, Binghamton New York is one of those old industrial cities that has had its ups and downs. It has spots that shine and other places that have a veneer of dirt and age and poor. I happen to love Binghamton because I went to college there. I spent four years learning about music and reading great books. I developed friendships that last to this day in that beat up old city and the memories of those days are cherished.
Having said that I have had no reason to go back to Binghamton for many years. The only way to get to Ithaca from my house means you drive right by Binghamton and I just had to stop this afternoon. When I pulled off the highway I had no real destination. I wanted to see what I could see and grab any memories that came my way. It was funny. I drove down a main street and the street names were suddenly familiar. I realized I was about three blocks away from the house I lived in on Chestnut Street near the corner of Leroy Street.
We lived on the first floor -- our front door was to the left side of the house. The two front windows leaked like crazy and my bedroom was freezing. Lynn's room was in the center of the house and while she had to put up with a LOT of noise it was warm, which in Binghamton in the winter is a major consideration. Our other roommate used the dining room as a bedroom because we were poor college students and that is just how things went back then. Lots of ill advised things happened in our place, some of them stupid and others just plain illegal. College.
I looked at that house for a moment, said a few silent thank yous to whatever guardian angel helped me live through some of the things I did. Then, I drove down the two lane highway that takes you from Binghamton to Ithaca -- passing signs for pig roasts and Sunday pancake breakfasts. I drove by bored looking kids throwing base balls and grandmas in old house dresses watering the flower pots hanging from peeling porches. This part of upstate New York is beautiful. I could so easily live out in the country, provided I had good connectivity of course.
Ithaca is a vibrant collge town. There are fabulous restaurants, interesting shops and the Commons is alive with music and people on a Sunday evening. I enjoyed a walk through the city picking out which house I would buy as is my habit every time I travel. I think I will always want to uproot my life and move somewhere new.
(This was painted on a construction site I passed on the Ithaca Commons during my search for dinner.)