I've had a lot of time to think about what Ithaca would be like. We've known that we would be moving here for almost six months, which is a long time to wonder how beautiful this place could possibly be, the way everyone talks about it.
Well, even with all the hype, I can say without reservation that Ithaca is, in fact, gorgeous (or "gorges," as the tourism industry here would have us say). I alternate between feeling like I've landed in the opening scenes of The Last of the Mohicans with all those misty green mountains (I know it was Tennessee or somewhere but the aura is the same) or some alternate version of the Twilight books where Forks is a somewhat larger town with an Ivy League university. Here it is the middle of summer and it is rainy and cool. There are forested hills and large grassy meadows everywhere and it's all green, green, green. It's as if Ithaca was made using a completely different pallette of colors, most of them being shades of green. The shock isn't as great as it would have been coming directly from Tucson. At least we had a stopping-over period in Provo to ease us into a verdant, life-affirming landscape. Still, I can't keep myself from staring at the grass and trees and soaking it all in.
Our apartment is kind of in the middle of a forest, which is great for outdoor play but not so good for cell phone reception. Fortunately, our contracts are up in a week or two so we'll figure out a way to not have to make phone calls standing outside down the street. We're still sour on a traditional family cell phone plan so we're hoping to rig up a combination of Google Voice, pre-paid cell phones, and possibly a land line that will work for us. Any input?
In a more social sense, Jeremy and I feel a little bit like we've gone from being medium-sized fish in a medium-sized pond, to being small fish in a very big pond. For example, among the people who helped us move in (thank you, Mormon connection) were a handful of PhDs or near-PhDs and a post-doc. Where else does that even happen?
I am almost giddy with nerdy linguistic excitement to discover that they have an accent here. You don't hear it everywhere since so many people are implants, or here temporarily from elsewhere with Cornell or Ithaca College, but I can hardly pay attention to the actual substance of what people say when they are speaking in that wonky Upstate New York brogue. Plus, they pronounce "Binghamton" as "BINGhamton," with the "hamton" part almost swallowed instead of spoken. I can't get enough of it.
One thing that concerns me is the injudiciousness of having to say "New York State" or "Upstate New York" when referring to the place where we now live. I've always thought it was unfair that people from Washington had to tack on "...state" to the end when really, it's the people from DC who should have to add on the "DC." Right? Maybe it's just because I grew up in the Northwest where Washington (State) was more immediate and local. On our trip out here, if we told people we were moving to New York, they assumed we meant the city. I'll have to sort out just how indignant I am about this later.
But there's not a lot of time for indignance when we have a city and a campus to explore. It seems like when people move to new places, they're always able to describe them in terms of where they've already been. In that case, Ithaca reminds me of Middlebury on steroids. It has the winding country roads and old houses with sprawling grass lawns ending at the forest, but it has a much larger downtown area and more of a bustle about it. I can't wait to discover more.