In the end, it all made sense.
It’s just that in the beginning, i had been very short sighted.
I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate. I have an amazing family, incredible friends, an insanely awesome job, i travel the world, i am healthy.
I am not saying this to brag, oh hell no. i know within a minute, even possibly a microsecond, i could be at a doctor and hear words that could send my entire world spinning on it’s ass. Or answer an unexpected call from a family member about a fall, a heart attack, a car accident.
I say this because in my 40’s i am finding myself coming into the time of serious reflection on what is important, what i need to take to my grave as things that actually MATTER.
So i think it’s critical i write for a minute about my trip home to my birthplace last week.
I think if i didn’t write about it, it would be one of those things that might meander through the rest of my life as a memory instead of taking pause and talking about the significance of what it was.
It was nothing extraordinary. not on the surface. it will probably not be anything to you, the one reading these words.
It was not a vacation to the Pacific Ocean. It was not a place that had incredible restaurants and nightlife. It did not have a tourism website on “what to do in Elmira.”
It was this:
watching my daughter run through sprinklers
A competitive game of Sorry with her grandmother on the porch
Three generations of Corradini’s skipping rocks on the river at the end of our street
Exhaling at the knowledge that the local drive-in theater is still as beautiful and functional as its ever been
Witnessing one of the three cats guard the sidewalk chalk (good boy, Sammy)
a walk across the lawn to the neighbors yard with granddad
Smelling the aroma of a homemade peach pie
Picking up tailored pants at the local Men’s Clothier and Haberdashery store that is STILL IN BUSINESS
Driving by a home that has toilets as lawn art, that isn’t punished by some well manicured lady that runs a homeowner’s association (ok, this house was a little creepy and i did not like the fact they had a chained dog in the yard, but the point is made…)
A barn belonging to a Monastery that tempts you, for a minute, to take a vow of silence if it meant looking at this every day
a vending maching that still sells coffee
the neighborhood liquor store that still uses the word “liquors”
a building that has been there since i was born, which at one glance makes me think of the show “Eight is Enough.”
the welcome hug of a grandmother on the front porch
an ice cream shop, worth every minute of the twelve it takes to get there, to teach you a simple lesson.
It’s these things that cleansed my body… full of selfishness and stress and iphone-induced-email-addiction.
But you know, playing Apples-to-Apples at 9pm at night with stars overhead and frogs croaking in background does something.
Shooting off a homemade potato launcher named Big Bertha using only Final Net, a potato, and the strength of your biceps takes it to even another level.
It makes you realize that it ain’t all about 9 to 5.
It’s the moments in between i need to cherish, lock up in my pocket.
Go to a small town.
If you find yourself bored, then open your eyes. They are gems… rough and dusty and pure, and we are losing them to the strip malls and free wifi Starbucks and track home housing.
We are losing them to neighborhood associations and Safeway’s and Jiffy Lube’s.
I am not innocent in all this. I go to Starbucks, i shop at Safeway, and i pay our monthly dues to the lady that doesn’t let me put a toilet in my front yard.
But something in me changed this time… and i’m old enough now to let this “thing” fester and grow and become something that shifts my perspective 7 degrees.
that’s all it takes, really. a small shift.
Take off your shoes, run through a sprinkler again (the kind attached to a hose) and tell me you wouldn’t give up every nonfat skinny latte in the world to give our cities back to the rebirth of our small towns.
Elmira, thank you for being there for my birth, my 41st summer, and all the generations in between and yet to come.
What is your story?
Put a penny on it.