In the past week, I have traveled over a thousand miles, through five states, and into Canada and back again. But now I am at last in Syracuse, where I will remain for the next 3 months as an intern at the Syracuse University Library. However, I don’t start until July 7th, which is more than a week from today.
The Northeastern states have always been a “here there be dragons” sort of place on my personal life-experience map. Oh sure, I’ve been to NYC a couple of times, but except for a 5-week stay in Cincinnati, I’ve never lived anywhere that was both east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line. I’ve lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Guam (when I was a baby), Minnesota, Washington (the state, not the capitol), and Illinois. I’ve had brief stays in Sarasota, Florida, Cincinnati, Portland (Oregon), and my parents live in South Carolina so I go there a couple of times a year. So my past experience in the Northeast has been only as a tourist.
Syracuse is very different from Chicago in more than a couple of ways. I live at the top of a giant hill – the kind of hill that you can’t help but almost fall down as you’re walking because it is so steep. There are no hills in Chicago, and I have come to the realization that I may lose about 5-10 pounds just by virtue of living here and having to walk up and down all these dang hills. It’s also so much quieter than Chicago – there’s a delightful dearth of police sirens, horns honking and loud teenagers.
Next, there’s the trees! Lots of trees here and in this general upstate area. I drove to Canada last week to visit a friend, and the entire time I was surrounded by trees and forest, which was basically the opposite of my drive from Chicago which was mostly flat Midwestern fields. The sky was full of storm clouds too, which gave everything a nice dramatic touch and made me feel like I was in a horror movie’s opening credits (like when the main characters are driving up to the scenic and secluded cabin in the woods).
Finally, there’s the houses. I have yet to see a one-story house in this town. Most of the houses are wooden or have wood-siding, which is in contrast to Chicago’s brick-heavy architecture. And the porches! So many porches abound, one of which I’m enjoying right now. The house I’m living in was built in the 1920′s, and I love every inch of it. Everything is made of solid wood, with little nooks and crannies and mysterious doors with crystal doorknobs everywhere.
I plan to spend this week exploring Syracuse and getting lost in order to learn my way around. In my experience I get to know a city faster if I just give myself permission to get lost and then work to find my way back home. So far I’ve got both my Wegmans card and my Price Chopper card, and I’ve located one of the asian grocery stores in town. Next I need to locate a source for some good local beer and find the best thrift store. Sometime soon I plan to visit the Corning Museum of Glass, which has been recommended by both a friend and my Pure Seaglass book.