Homesick

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October 7, 2013 by hollyhodgepodge

There is a bridge — a pair of bridges actually — over the Mohawk River connecting Albany and Saratoga counties in upstate New York.

Its proper name is the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge, but everyone just says “the Twin Bridges.”

Years pass now between opportunities to cross the Twin Bridges, but when I do, I know I’m home. It’s a place that Thomas Wolfe will be forever remembered as having said you can’t go to again.

I’m testing Mr. Wolfe’s theory. At least, temporarily.

For the next six days, I’ll be away from Chattanooga, visiting not one, but two places I call home.

Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where I lived from 1998 to 2005, feels like my home. Not my family’s, just mine. I moved there for college when I was 18 and stayed until I was 25. It’s the first place I put down any of my own roots, the last time I really had the kind of friendships that feel like family, the place I met the man I love. Saratoga is where I let go of being a child and came into my own.

This weekend is my 10-year college reunion. It’s a chance to see old friends, to catch up, to see how far we’ve all come in the past decade. Cynically, it’s also a chance to feel bad about our failures and our classmates’ successes, or to gloat if the reverse is true. But I don’t think that will be the case.

After that, it’s down to the city (yes, that’s New York City, and yes, those of us who are from there refer to it as “the city” because yes, New Yorkers really are that self-centered) to visit my family.

If Saratoga is the place I crossed the bridge into adulthood, New York (yes, the city, which trumps the rest of the state) is the path that led

me there. It’s where I was born, where I grew up, where my family still lives. It’s the place I made my earliest mistakes and experienced some of my most traumatizing embarrassments.

Fortunately, enough time has passed that I hardly remember most of the traumas. Fortunately, it is also the place where I learned the first of a series of never-ending life lessons. It is not, I confess, the place I learned that you never stop learning. That’s a lesson I keep having to remind myself of. I’m not always thrilled to be reminded that I don’t know everything.

Like many young people, I was eager to leave home when the time came. It took me 10 years to miss New York. You know when I miss it most? In the winter. I don’t think there’s any place more beautiful than New York at Christmastime. Of course, that might just be absence making the heart grow fonder.

As the dog days of summer approach, you can’t blame me for being homesick for snow.

Originally published June 1, 2012 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

 

Reader responses:

I have been watching Decorah Eagles on my iPad.  The young eagles are now
hopping about, working muscles, and flapping their wings testing the air.
Soon they will leave the nest.

Makes me think about your great line:  “Where I let go of being a child and
came into my own.”

Ed 

 

Funny you mentioned NY, as I’m from Northern NY.Massena to be exact. Been living in Soddy Daisy since 08 when I retired. My brother is from Clifton Park,and my nephew lives in Saratoga Springs. We sold our home in Feb. went up to clean out the rest and now Soddy is HOME. Going camping this summer in NY, see how that works out……..Jim

 

Dear Holly,

Just wanted to wish you a great trip back home to New York.  I do enjoy your articles in the life section of the paper. I don’t care how long someone lives in the South after growing up in the North, especially New York/New Jersey, it will always be home.  I never had an “accent” when I talked until I moved to the Chattanooga area.  If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “you’re not from around here are you?” I would be rich.  I long to go home to New York (Wurtsboro 15 yrs) and New Jersey (Bergen County 25 years) just to hear the “accents” that are the same as me. The great food like real bagels, pizza, and crusty on the outside soft on the inside hard rolls, and real rye bread when you order breakfast in a DINER! Perhaps your return to Chattanooga article can be about all the great things New York/New Jersey has to offer that you cannot get in the South.  Oh – and when I get off the plane in Newark and hear the voices and “attitude” I always say “ahhhhh, I’m home”!

Have a great visit back home!

Joanne L

 

I’m a misplaced native of Buffalo.  I also have lived in Troy when I was an undergraduate at RPI, in Ithaca when I was a grad student at Cornell, and in Potsdam, when  I taught at Clarkson.  I’ve never lived in SE New York state, i.e. downstate, as in Downstate Medical Center.

   I hate the phrase “upstate” because it references everything to New York City.  (I suspect there are people in Manhattan who consider The Bronx “upstate.”)  The same standard would make Cleveland “upstate” Tennessee if we referenced all to Chattanooga.  If you must use such phrases, the geographic center of the state is near Rome, so apply your terms correspondingly.  I prefer to say I have lived in western, eastern, central (or the Finger lakes), and northern New York.

  ( I teach engineering at UTC.)

   Have fun at your reunion.  I dated a girl from “Skids” and have a cousin who manages (I think) the bookstore there.

   Jim H

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