Sometimes when you love something you have to let it go. Or in my case, when relocating for your spouse’s job requires you to do so.
My family has lived all over the world. So in 2010, upon hearing the news that we were packing our bags to lay down roots in cozy Binghamton, the change did not seem so drastic. After all, I’d only be two hours east on I-90 and an hour south on I-81.
Oh, little did I know.
I could now commence with waxing poetically about my new-found appreciation for all things Buffalo. And so I shall. But not before the following disclaimer.
I can’t say enough about Binghamton, the unassuming area nestled between gently rolling hills and slow-winding rivers we called home the last three years. Or maybe I can.
I met the most genuine and welcoming folks in Binghamton. And this quaint city is really a microcosm of Western New York.
Like our little engine that could and did, Binghamton was dealt its own unfortunate blow when thousands of local jobs were lost at IBM in the mid-2000s, akin to the closing of Bethlehem Steel in Buffalo.
Since then, and like us, theirs is a community very much in transition, struggling to find that nouveaux niche. Nevertheless, amidst that economic downturn and two devastating floods over the last seven years, Binghamtonians possess many of the same qualities Buffalonians do: resiliency, pride and optimism about the future of their city. And there are some notable gems there I’d be remiss not to mention.
Like the chicken spiedie (what Buffalonian doesn’t cherish a good local specialty anywhere in the world?) and the Spiedie Balloon Festival.
Equally impressive is the Discovery Center Story Garden. Think horticultural Disneyland, where kids can frolic in a breathtaking outdoor garden.
Fast forward to now. We’re back home. And last week, while cruising around our new ’hood, it all came flooding back to me – all the reasons why I love this region.
Like having an NFL team to call my very own. I missed the Bills terribly, like one misses a sibling gone away to college who comes home a weekend here or there (some Bills games were broadcast on TV, some weren’t, depending on whether those other New York teams were playing at the same time).
I longed for Buffalo cuisine. OK … primarily the pizza. You just cannot, will not, do not find pizza anywhere in the universe as outstanding as the pizza in Western New York … period.
I also missed the diversity. Where else in suburban New York State will you spot someone wearing a sari, an abaya or stiletto heels, all on the same street? I’ll tell you where. On the street near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport where I now live.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate my time in Binghamton. That area will forever and affectionately hold a place in my heart.
Loving and missing Buffalo doesn’t make my time there any less meaningful. It just means that after the last Anchor Bar wing has been eaten, remaining Just Pizza-pizza slice devoured, last stroll down trendy Elmwood Avenue taken, lights dimmed at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and after the last stubborn snowflake of an infamous Western New York winter has fallen; I’m just a Buffalonian at heart. And that’s OK. I wouldn’t have it any other way.