Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankfulness: Ithaca in Retrospect

I was 16 years old when I first visited Ithaca. It was one of those crisp spring days--Ithacans, you know what I'm talking about--when the sky is blue and the trees are green and everyone walks around with stupid smiles on their faces, rapturously joyful at the temporary departure of the long, cold, grey Finger Lakes winter.

Photo from my first visit to Ithaca, 5/29/99

I moved to Ithaca the month after I turned 18, my parents' minivan packed to the roof with items my mother was sure I'd need (plastic storage boxes? aluminum foil?), unaware of that Cornell's East Hill weather machine produced perfect weather only for the 10 days of pre-frosh campus visits in the spring, and another 4 days for parents' weekend in the autumn. Bastards.

I was blissfully unaware.

Hiking in Treman as a freshman, 2000

I didn't think about or understand responsibility, relationships, or being an adult, or prioritizing what was important to me, or what was important to me, or how hard it can be to remain sane in an insane world. Hell, I even considered voting for George W. Bush in the 2000 election (what can I say--it was my first election--before 2000, donkeys and elephants were zoo animals!). In short, I was a kid.

I spent four years on The Hill.

The Arts Quad, 2003 (?)

Then I graduated. :-O

Graduation, 2004

Unsure of where I could go and what I could do, I decided to roll down the hill to a little apartment on The Commons. I told myself that it would be just for a year for a little relaxation after so many years of schooling, and then I would... I didn't know. Build my life?

One year turned into two years turned into five years. I struggled and thrived and struggled a little more. Boyfriends came, stayed, and left. I invented myself, abandoned that, reinvented myself. The world spun madly on, bright blue spring skies giving way to the succulent greenness of summer, then the festival of autumn colors, then the greyscale of winter. Again and again.

Filmore Glen near Moravia, 2005

I wonder if anyone has a moment when they realize they are an adult, a full member of a community. I didn't, but after returning from Peru this spring I realized that I had a career--not just a "job"--and I had friends--not just drinking buddies--and I had a relationship and I gave directions to tourists and I recognized the same faces in Wegman's and I could list all the best hiking trails in the County and actually knew people on Common Council and also knew to leave town for graduation and move-in weekends, lest a wrong-way driver run me over on Seneca Street.

I had built a life. Or rather, I had built my life.

Peppers for sale at the Farmers' Market, 2006

I'm finally leaving Ithaca, just shy of 10 years here. I'll miss my adopted hometown. I'm leaving a lot behind:
  • Saturday morning breakfast burritos at the Ithaca Farmers' Market
  • Wegman's, where you can find anything.  Anything.
  • The Lindseth climbing wall: so vertical, so slimy, so beloved
  • Scaring deer on a Sunday afternoon walk on the Black Diamond Trail
  • Saying "I've got nothing" at work (it's still funny)
  • Thursday Night Girls' Club
  • The lakehouse, even the Man Cave
  • The Tompkins County Public Library
  • My 7 (11, really) sycamores
  • Finger Lakes dry Riesling
  • Red-winged black birds in the marshes near the Inlet
  • Being reallyreallyreally excited to teach at COE
  • Not being the only woman not wearing makeup
  • Napping in the cargo net in Kate & Tim's climbing cave
  • Trying to answer the question, "How many buses does TCAT have?"
  • Sleeping in a hammock
  • Ithaca's one million festivals
  • Cocoa Bean Supertramp & Biggie Smalls, two of my favorite felines
  • Ithaca's 15 minute rush "hours"
  • Riding my bike
  • Complaining about the weather but secretly enjoying it
The last ten years have made me who I am. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Ithaca, 2000-2010.

Lovely's birthday, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nicolie,
    I miss you. I just reread this blog you wrote a long time ago. It reminded me of who you are, but I'm not really forgetting! I miss you! Mummers