“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

As I mentioned before, I choose to be Southern.  I have lived in the South now for over half of my life, and there is so much I love about it.  The pace of life.  The general lack of winter.  The warmth and friendliness of the culture.

But over the last few years (and really, only over the last few), my mind has wandered back to the chillier land of my birth, and I have found myself a bit homesick for New York.  Not so much to LIVE there – a one week winter visit in 2005 disabused myself of that entire concept – but to be able to share so much of my early years with my husband and son.  There is need for a sense of history, a sense of place, a sense of how I became the person I am.  And so much of that is intricately linked with that place that is New York.

There is a saying that people from New York or Texas will find a way within one minute of introductory conversation to let you KNOW that they are from New York or Texas.  This was unashamedly true of myself in the first five years after I left my home state.  Further, in true form, it is immediately followed up with “…but I am from UPSTATE New York.”  It’s a disclaimer that always seems necessary in the interest of complete disclosure.  There is a mental image of “New York” that the casual observer has in their minds from years of media stereotypes that only capture a fraction of what is “The City” and are at complete odds from the world I knew.  People tend to forget there is an actual State attached to that Big City.  Sometimes the New York legislature itself tends to forget it.  New York City is a very big tail wagging the political and cultural dog.

The New York I know is universe away from “Law and Order” or “Sex in the City”.  I grew up passing back and forth between my mother’s home in suburban Rochester and my father’s dairy farm some distance south, in Livonia, NY.  

From the Finger Lakes, nestled in the Catskills, to the worn, ancient beauty of the Adirondacks, to the tiny islands of the St. Lawrence, this is a New York that not many people know.  Rural.  Conservative.  Colloquial.  Life here is more “Southern” in pace, but has the closed door quality particular to the stoic, Puritan, New England heritage.  Pleasures are simple.  Pain and grief are to be borne without tears or complaint.  Life simply is, and there is no point into looking too deeply into it.  Things are done because they have always been done that way.  You don’t ask more out of life than is given.

Which could be the reasoning behind why the long winters haven’t driven people out of New York State in droves.

Or it could be because it is breathtakingly beautiful.

A drive through New York will take you through the heart of milk, wine and orchard country, picturesque enough to be right out of early Winslow Homer.  It will take you through untouched woodland hills, waterfalls, and ferned glens, so incredibly gorgeous it can make you cry.

Mohonk Nature Preserve, Catskills, NY

I miss home.

But for many reasons, past and present, I can’t bring myself to go back right now, or for the forseeable future.

And that fills me with a deep sadness.

August 9th, 2007 at 1:50 pm
2 Responses to “New York State of Mind”
  1. 1
    Suz Says:

    I understand this; I spent a year in Rochester NY, and did find it to be beautiful. Having also chosen to be southern, having grown up in Delaware, every summer I remember what it means to go to the Jersey Shore to walk the boardwalk and be bashed about by the cold, violent waves.

  2. 2
    CinnKitty Says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit New York. The city just to see Broadway, but the Upper portion of the State for exactly everything that you describe. Someday..I hope, I’ll actually make it up there and experience the beauty that calls to you so deeply!

    And I totally understand homesickness and the inability to do anything about it. It’s been 5 years since I’ve been back to Cali and I dream of it almost every night.

    Hang in there babe!!