After going to college in rural western New York, many of my peers flocked back to their big-city hometowns or left their backcountry nests behind in search of something bigger, something better.
I understood the allure — skyscrapers, busy streets, the excitement of being where things actually happen.
I wondered if it was something I wanted, too. So I applied to jobs in Buffalo (a good starting point, I thought), New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Tucson. I penned dozens of cover letters and adjusted my creative résumé using Adobe InDesign. I got as far as my starting point, where a local ice cream company said “thanks, but no thanks.”
I ended up in a small town that calls itself a city, nestled just below the famous Finger Lakes region in New York State.
“Why?” You might ask. To that I say “Well, why not?”
You’re talking to the girl who grew up riding her bike down one hill and up another, passing only a decrepit department store, an abandoned train depot and dusty store fronts as she huffed and puffed to the library.
The girl who ran miles around cornfields and pastures, with one runway of a road – damn you, Wheater! – that seemed to stretch into oblivion.
The girl who yearned for charming coffee shops, lunch spots and, at the very least, a one-screen movie theater.
Today, all that is here. And it’s enough.
I frequent several local coffee shops and lunch spots, and I cruise down busy streets to riverfront paths on either two wheels or two legs — it doesn’t matter which. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized this place is as city as Emily gets, and riding my bike or walking downtown to a lively main street full of restaurants, ice cream shops, and trendy bars will never ever get old.
Now when I visit home I relish in the long, empty roads dotted by farm creatures and picturesque barns. I appreciate what I had, what I have, and what will be. And today if I were to bike to the library from my parents’ house, I’d pass a coffee-shop lunch spot, the two-in-one deal I never knew I needed.
It’s today. I’m here or there, and that’s enough.
Oh, and did I mention the theater here has two screens?!?