Pulling up to my little white house after a hurried trip North, I thought I would feel thankful to be back and to some degree I was. I was happy for my cozy bed to fall into and glad to see my very excited dog jump and wiggle around like I was the second coming. But after the relief of being out of my car wore off, I began to feel the toll of the past year weigh down on me, starting with my grandma’s passing in October, and ending with my grandpa’s in June. I’d come full circle and the emotional funk hung on me like a heavy wet sweater.
So I reflected on my trip up and focused on the good things – the memories I had made, the time I was able to spend with my family and friends – and I began to pick out the vast differences between life in my big city and the life I left up on Chautauqua Lake over eight years ago. This is what I came up with:
- The Italian food is better up there. Like, way better. In a town where half the population’s great grandparents came over from the mother land, the Italian food is going to be top notch. Between the capicola subs, the eggplant parm, and the to-die-for meat sauce, I was happy to get a taste of something I simply cannot find to that caliber, down South. This is not to mock the extensive and obviously amazing culinary delights I can stuff my face with down here, hell Jamestown sure isn’t boasting any James Beard nominees, I’m just saying, those upstate New York Italians aren’t screwing around.
- The drinks are cheaper, you can use poker chips to pay for them at some bars, and if you’re really lucky, you can get your cocktails to-go in a kiddie cup. Seriously, coming from a town where it’s nothing to drop $12 a cocktail that’s hand-crafted by a mustached hipster in suspenders and rolled up jeans, paying $7 for two vodka Red Bulls in a bar where I almost just got vomited on is jaw-droppingly refreshing.
- The roads up North are shot to hell and the pot holes will swallow your vehicle whole if you’re not careful. I needed an alignment like yesterday. Nashville roads win this battle, but don’t get me started on the traffic here.
- You cannot beat New England summer nights. The air is significantly less humid, the nights are cool – so cool I required a borrowed hoodie over my maxi to keep from shivering – and the lull of the lake lapping on the shore sounds so much better while sitting on a dock drinking a beer with an old friend.
- The memories are stronger. Walking around my grandparents property, where we had spent many a family birthday party at, had picked handfuls of berries, and spent hours searching for railroad ties was almost overwhelming, but in a good way. The pine trees smelled like summer camp and rhubarb pie my mom baked in her parents oven one last time tasted like heaven.
So as I drove away in my car pointed south and I watched the rolling hills and blue lake fade into the distance, I knew that no matter where I go from here, or where I end up, that little town will always be my home.