I Heart New York

New York is not New England. It wants to be one of the quaint little neighbors to it's north/southeast. But it's not. Maybe, on the surface, it feels and looks a little like one of my favorite states which,"played a prominent role in the movement to abolish slavery in the United States, hosted the first pieces of American literature and philosophy, was home to the beginnings of free public education, and was the first region of the United States to be transformed by the North American Industrial Revolution." (Oh, how I love thee, Wikipedia)

Nope, New York. You did not provide the backdrop of inspiration for some of our beloved poets like Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost or house those who fought for free public education. You can't claim that you have the rock that the Pilgrims landed on or boast recent championship teams in professional football, baseball and basketball.

Yes, you have old stone walls and historic buildings like New England. You do have gorgeous fall foliage and, I must give you credit, you are the home of a number of inspirational authors and artists and that amazingly large waterfall. (Although, the Canadian side is much nicer.) Plus, you have New York City. There's no place like NYC.

I don't live in New York City. I live Up State. During the eight years I've lived here I've struggled to find my identity and how to fit in as a New Englander in the state-next-door. Often-times I've felt like a fish out of water. I'm the only one who says "wicked" and doesn't pronounce elementary like, "elemen-terry." I've felt odd, and maybe a little afraid, as the lone person sporting a Red Sox hat in a room full of Yankees fans. And I'm almost certain that Andy and I were the only two who in line Tuesday morning who pushed down the Obama/Biden tab at our local polling place.

Where are the tree huggers? Where are the late night coffee shops and little book stores you can camp out in? Where are the men dressed in drag and Ami the Bearded Lady? Where can I go out to eat and get something other than a burger and fries?

I've traded some of the things I took for granted in New England and exchanged them for central New York specials. There are so many, but a few of those specials include: the right not to have a functioning septic system when you sell a house; Billy Fucillo and Caroline car commercials; putting random crap you don't want and won't pay to dispose of, like toilets, on your front yard with a free sign; getting the entire town together to march down the main drag in support of a holiday or local sports team accomplishment; the nursing home "notes" section taking up half a page in the newspaper; parking all of your cars, trucks, boats and ATVs on the front lawn of your trailer; using a blue tarp to create a "seasonal room" on your double-wide; having three to four giant blow-up Christmas decorations on your lawn; and finally, burning anything you want, whenever you want.

At first, these unique activities disturbed me. I watched one toilet sit on a curb through the falling of the leaves, the winter blast of blizzards and the warming of spring. I certainly learned my lesson about septic systems when we dug up three lawns in search of the perfect, functioning one for ourselves. After many years I've now grown to appreciate Up State for its differences with my beloved New England. I smile and wave when I drive down the road and see my neighbor's couch disintegrating into a gigantic bon fire on his lawn. Just last week, I joined all 100 of my neighbors in town to march down the street, behind the high school band, in celebration of Halloween. I'm even thinking about taking our old stove and putting it out at the end of the driveway, just for fun. Hey- some body's trash is someone else's treasure, right?

New York, you're all I've got right now and you've been good to me. I have to like you, you gave me in-state tuition after only three months residency. New England, you're just a car ride away but you're always in my heart.


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