Monday, September 24, 2007


You're probably sick of me writing about my wanderlust, but that's OK; I think you're supposed to get sick of a blogger's preoccupations. I need to check my handbook again, but I'm pretty sure.

I spent the past couple of days in Ithaca, New York, probably the one specific place my wanderlust has been most fiercely attached to, primarily from the years 1997-2000. Those were the years when my younger sister was in school there, and I made the trip from Texas several times to visit her. The last time I was there, a little more than seven years ago (gulp), I was strongly considering a move there, figuring I would have company for at least my sister's last few months of school and could reevaluate things after that. This was in the wake of a bad break-up (double gulp), but that wasn't the fuel for my desire to flee. Part of it was that anytime I traveled to the northeast in October or November, the difference in the air (literal air, not metaphorical) alone triggered my homing device. Part of it was that the atmosphere around Cornell seemed to represent the Platonic college experience in a way that the atmosphere around my university didn't, and visiting Ithaca always stoked whatever regret I had about not coming back north for school. (Meaning, part of it was my longstanding desire to live in a past that can no longer occur, which makes this whole life thing not great.) Lastly, subconscious motivations aside, Ithaca's just really, really, astoundingly pretty (see above).

I figured this latest trip -- centered around seeing my supremely talented brother-in-law in a play -- would shatter the rose-colored glasses I'd been wearing whenever I looked back on the times I spent there. Well, the lenses threatened to crack, but they certainly didn't shatter. It's true that what seemed most appealing about the place back then -- a different kind of collegiate experience -- is off my radar today. College students now look to me like they're approximately five years old. It's also true that a large used-books store that I remembered as terrific was a little underwhelming this time around. Still, the natural beauty remains, and the large university means there will always be a level of cultural life that doesn't exist in most smaller, quieter places. In other words, the dream lives.


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