Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thoughts from Places: Oh Ithaca, My Ithaca

I tend to refer to my college's town as "the frozen north," and it is never so appropriate as when nature fittingly gives us an April Fool's Day dusting of snow that's still clinging to the ground in the face of the next day's sun. And let's face it, it's probably going to snow again today. It precipitates so much in Ithaca, and often of such an indeterminate manner of precipitation, that my roommate's freshman year RA started calling it "Ithacation" and the term's stuck.

But for a place that is grey and dreary for about nine months of the year, it sure is gorgeous when the sun comes out.

This is the view from my apartment window. I'm spoiled forever.

My family stopped in Ithaca when we were on vacation in Watkins Glen, a few years before I was applying to colleges. We walked around the Commons - Ithaca's downtown area for pedestrians - and got delicious smoothies at Collegetown Bagels. (By the way, if you are ever in Ithaca, GET THEE TO COLLEGETOWN BAGELS POST HASTE.) I liked the vibe of this place, this strange little city essentially in the middle of nowhere. "There's a college here," my mom said. "We could look into it."

And now here I am.

I have a tendency to refer to Ithaca as "Hippieville USA," and it is. But I like that. I like that I can compost my plate in pretty much every cafe and that so many interesting people can be found here. I like that it's a little microcosm of a town set in between Ithaca College and Cornell University.

For most of my time here at IC, I was basically a hermit. I didn't really go much of anywhere. I stayed inside on weekends, watching Disney movies and doing laundry with my roommate. And now there's so much I have to catch up on before the great and terrible diaspora of graduation - things that technically speaking I'd have time to do later, but not with the people I want to do those things with. I have to go to the gorges and waterfalls that Ithaca is so famous for (we have t-shirts that say "Ithaca is Gorges," as well as various spoofs; my favorite is "Ithaca is Cold"). I have to go to Waffle Frolic (seriously, what a great name for a restaurant). That lake in the picture above? I've been staring down at it for four years and never been.

I've had so many adventures in places that are not here, and I think it's time to fix that.

I never really thought that I'd stay here after I graduated; I'd always thought that my chosen college town would be the place where I went to college and that would be that. But here I am, making plans to stay. And I like that. This town is giving me the chance, or at least, I hope will be giving me the chance, to make my transition from "student" to "real actual adult person" a little easier. I'll be able to tear off the Band-Aid slowly here. This is a place that is safe and familiar for me, a place I've spent four years tucked cozily away between cinder block walls and cocooned by textbooks. It's a place where I have friends - my roommate who will be staying here with me and who is kind of my best friend, as well as some other friends who won't be graduating yet. It's a place where I can navigate all the scary things adulthood brings - paying rent, buying groceries not on my parents' credit card, owning a car, paying off student loans - with some sense of solid, familiar ground.

I'm looking forward to discovering this place I halfway know. I'm looking forward to turning Ithaca into more than just South Hill and the IC campus. I'm looking forward to really claiming this place as mine, for a little while longer at least.

And, let's face it, I actually really like snow.

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