I don’t think of Ithaca as a place I “visit.” For four years, I spend a majority of my time living, learning, volunteering, working, and growing both within this small city and on IC’s campus on the edge of Ithaca City proper. Ithaca feels like a place I should not be visiting, but returning home to. And yet, this is what it has become.
It has become a place where I notice change with part excitement, and part bitterness. (There are trees again in the Commons, but they are tiny, new trees, whom have yet to write their story on the Commons, not the drooping cherry trees I remember, which were chopped down for the new construction). It has become a place I think I know, but which is no longer quite the same (the stretch of restaurants remains, but many of the restaurants I knew and loved are gone now, replaced by new places which I’m sure are also wonderful, but which are not mine).
And I am no longer the same person I was when I studied there. Just a year out of college, my relationship with everything that was everyday has changed.
And yet, it is still Ithaca. Sparkling water still tumbles over the waterfalls I have hiked by many times, and the used bookstores are still overflowing with yellowed paperbacks to tempt away my paycheck. And there are so many memories, tucked around every corner.
Ithaca will always be a part of my life, at least to some extent. A part of me will always be there, waiting for me with open arms and a scrutinizing eye, waiting to see how much I’ve changed, and willing to accept me even for whatever I have become.