Monday, October 29, 2007

Pittsburgh and Syracuse

This blog has been much neglected, due to all the travel lately. The account of my recent trip to Pittsburgh, though, has just been posted on Debutante Ball. (Plus, some thoughts on truth, fiction, and cell phones.)

I’m getting more and more acquainted with our local Hartford airport. But the latest trip was to Syracuse and thankfully, didn’t require flying. The drive took 4.5 hours – I was hoping for less, but nope, it’s almost as long as it was from Boston to Syracuse. I’ve found a long time ago that the best way to deal with long car trips is by listening to books on tapes. This time, I started with The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, read by John Cleese, which was fabulous, but a bit hard to follow while driving. So I switched to The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, gruesome but thoroughly captivating, and that got me to Syracuse.

As I was crossing Erie Boulevard, grey and desolate and full of garish car-dealership signs, I suddenly felt as if I’d never left. It was all too familiar. I mean, it was good to be back, but also a little sad. My teachers were still there and also a couple of my friends, but the overall MFA community was different now, full of new people, and I wondered what it was like to be them. I had these moments of nostalgia all through the evening, though I also remembered the peculiar Syracuse loneliness: living within the structure of classes, readings, receptions, parties, everything nearby, always somewhere to go – and yet, and yet…

On the other hand, Syracuse now has a small independent bookstore on Westcott Street. With a coffee shop and an extra “study” room. Very cozy. I only wish it was there back when I was at Syracuse. I’m also happy to report that the Empire Brewery is back in business – it closed sometime during my 3rd year – and it looks exactly the same and probably has the same menu as before. We went there after the reading. The following morning I drove home, and the book-on-tape this time was One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Thank you to Movie Dictator for the stellar books-on-tape selection!


Andy said...

Love the post here and at the Debutante site.

Regarding "peculiar Syracuse loneliness" -- it seems like every city has its own flavor of loneliness. That hadn't occurred to me before.

Heidi Lynn Staples said...

ah sigh. the Syracurse. i oddly miss that particular flavor of damnation.