small town.

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.



This entry was posted in board games, Elmira, family, small town, summer, Uncategorized, Upstate New York and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to small town.

  1. Andrew Corradini says:

    Speakin’ as one who was there (and, well, your brother)….

    I loved what you said. It was a slice out of time, out of our rat races, and back to a no doubt healthier, more connected way of life. (There’s certainly a flip side, as I can attest and so can our two siblings — you wouldn’t want to go there for the night life or as ripe ground for finding a cosmopolitan life-partner — but that’s rather another story.)

    Me – I love the M&M hot dogs (“red hots”!), the upstate vowel assasination (‘apple’ -> ‘eee-a-pull’; ‘leather jackets’ -> ‘ledder jeee-ack-ets’); people who walk around the neighborhood in the evenings and chat with people and know — not just their neighbors to either side, but everybody on the block; really REALLY bad locally produced TV ads; convenience store vending machines that sell live baitworms (I have proof!); and just a whole lot of the wholesome, mom-and-apple-pie, heartland feeling that seems corny sometimes living on the coast in a liberal-elite-blue-state-big-city — but feels great sitting on the porch with your family, kids & cats, after grilled burgers and homemade peach pie, catching fireflies in jars (OK, I pasted that last one in from childhood in Virginia, but cut me some slack – I’m going for the imagery, here…) (I just wish those wholesome down-to-earth heartland Americans would stop turning their heartfelt but maybe not-so-thoughtfully-researched passions into attempts to send perhaps well-meaning but seriously dangerous dingbats to Washington…sigh.)

    (Nini – if you EVER again spell “losing” as “loosing” — as you did TWICE in the above post, so it’s not a typo — you have to put a black Porsche in the swear-jar (which goes to me). I’m aghast. Oh – and why exactly DO you want to put a toilet in your front yard?)

    Nice post — essay, actually. You’ve got potential – ‘spect.

  2. Ellen says:

    Nini, you brilliantly captured the essence of the area. These are the things that attracted me to the area 35 years ago and convinced us to move back 20 years ago. I’m so glad you and your siblings WANT to come here and that it means so much to you. In this age of drive by shootings, digital everything and kids growing up much too soon, it’s comforting to know that Happy Days really does exist.

    By the way, I meant to tell you when you were here; you have your retirement plan worked out. You will be an award-willing photo journalist!

    Andy, I’ve never heard it described as vowel assassination, but you sure hit the nail on the head!

    It was indeed a special few days that your father and I will never forget. We love all of you!

  3. Amy Cohen says:

    Beautiful post. I grew up in a small town in suburban NYC—not as rural and isolated as Elmira, given that NY was only 30 miles away, but nevertheless, a small town. So I can relate to the comforts and coziness of the small town life. But really what comes through is how warm and wonderful your family is. Thanks for sharing, and Katie and Ellen—thanks for linking to this on Facebook!

  4. Lalaura says:

    I love this!
    You always find the right words that pull us (readers) into your soul.
    I swear I could have been reading this in The Saturday Evening Post!
    Heart u AC!!!!

  5. Deedee Corradini says:

    I loved this post–it brought back good memories of Elmira. Your writing and way of expression is excellent–it really brings the reader into an emotional connection with what you are communicating. Thanks for sharing–you are so right!

  6. Ilirjan says:

    I had the fortune to be in Elmira many times….three years from now I experienced a similar feeling with the Corradini family….Yes, the town might be small, but people who live in it like Corradini’s made it a huge city for me and my friends, full of hospitality and fun….. Porching, ice cream place, outdoor games, firing patato gun (funniest thing ever, never saw or heard of such thing before)….. Family is saint…..
    Greetings from Europe.

    • Ellen says:

      Ilirjan, what a treat to see you posting on Nan’s blog! And thank you so much for the sweet words. You know you’re part of the Corradini family and always will be!

  7. What an all around amazingly written blog!!!

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