Posted by: chptr37 | 04/19/2009

Pg. 18: Home Town Greens


Ithaca Commons in the morning.


  • Miles Today: 377
  • Miles Total: 5284
  • From/To: Locke, NY to Liberty, NY
  • Slept: In a tiny twin bed complete with gingham pillows.
  • Soundtrack: Blessed silence.
  • Worst Thing: Leaving my family.
  • Best Thing: Playing basketball with the pollos, and not losing.
  • Quote of the Day: Oddly enough, I don’t have one. That’s a first.


Whenever someone asks me where I grew up, I say “Ithaca,” which isn’t entirely true. It’s just that no one knows where Locke, NY is. People know Ithaca — after all, Ithaca College and Cornell are both there. So is the famous Moosewood Restaurant, Ithaca Bucks, The Commons (one of the early shopping/city center places where no cars were allowed), and various hippy communes. It has a thriving arts center, any number of famous authors in the vicinity, a fantastic and well-known Saturday Market and a whole world of natural wonders, including Fillmore Glen, Treman State Park and some pretty glorious falls.

And, in some ways, Ithaca has shaped much of who I am, even if I just lived on its outskirts. It was filled with arts and culture. With foods from around the world. And people from around the world. There wasn’t a lot of racial diversity when I was growing up there (although, delightedly, I noticed a greater mixture of people this visit), but there was a lot of other kinds of diversity: a thriving alternative sexuality culture, various classes, farmers and businessmen, small-town folk and city slickers, bikers and mini-van drivers, tree-huggers and money-grubbers alike. Much of the town’s culture is shaped by Cornell — students come from around the world, they fall in love with the town, and they stay on.

I’ve often said Portland is like a big Ithaca. More people, bigger land-space, taller buildings, but much the same sensibilities. Green, open-minded, artsy-fartsy, world-aware, accepting… I think part of my transition from Portland is that the city feels like it’s lost some of those attributes that I enjoyed so much.

Now that Scotland is approaching, I’m beginning to turn my inner gaze from now to ‘then’ and to wonder what I’ll find there. I’m the type of traveler who doesn’t plan or research the place I’m going or take out books from the library (unlike someone I know -ahem- who rids the library of every book on the subject). I just arrive and see what happens. That’s what Scotland will be like. I joke about haggis and blood pudding, but in truth, I’m excited about everything that it will bring. My philosophy has always been that I’ll try anything twice, because there’s a good chance that the first time is going to suck no matter what. It’s a philosophy that’s served me well so far, and will continue to do so, I hope.

And who knows, maybe I’ll try living in Portland again some time in the far future. Or perhaps, I’ll get really brave and try Ithaca again. The first time didn’t suck for either of those places, but that doesn’t mean the second time won’t be even better.

Far and fast, s.



I bought myself a hand-made belt at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market. Here Jacques Reboh custom fits the belt to my waist.


“When a writer knows home in his heart, his heart must remain subtly apart from it. He must always be a stranger to the place he loves, and its people.” ~William Morris



  1. Isn’t it strange to go back to those places of our youth and either see that it hasn’t changed much or changed so drastically you barely recognize the place?

    Such, as the saying goes, is life.

    I do have to say, having a hand-made, custom fit belt is pretty awesome. And from the photo it looks like he does some awesome work.

    We need a picture of said belt 🙂



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