Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    Southwest New York Needs Some Love

    "Ironically, rural America has become viewed by a growing number of Americans as having a higher quality of life not because of what it has, but rather because of what it does not have!"  ~Don A. Dillman



    On a trip to the Southern Tier of New York I had a lot of time to think. Think about the weather, what the options might be for dinner, whether or not I should return a statement necklace, if I brought my blush. Clearly the deep, life-changing thoughts that I am prone too. But also the type of thinking one has when faced with miles of nothing; nary a person or a Starbucks or a set of golden arches in sight. Just land. I found myself mesmerized by it's vastness and reminding myself that yes, I was still in New York State. And that this - with the spaciousness out west to the claustrophobia of the Target in Brooklyn - is why I love this state to my core.

    I live in the middle of the state but to those in Queens I might as well live in Montreal. I tell friends who reside on the Upper West Side that I'm going out to Jamestown for work and they furrow their brow. "Where is that?" It's west. "…" "It's like Ohio". "Ohhhhh" they respond. It's like their heads are so wrapped around the encompassing anything and everything needed on the island of Manhattan that there is nothing outside of the boroughs. People are aware of Albany but quickly poo-poo it away. It's far, I am told. Upstate is quite the distance and I am admired for making the 2.5 hour train ride into midtown. On one side of the state you have Massachusetts, Connecticut and New England. Head west, first up 87 then west on I-90 and you'll suddenly find yourself immersed in the Midwest. Beer and sports bars are housed between largely uninhabited industrial buildings. Miles between towns that pride themselves on how well they do their Buffalo wings and Beef on a Weck.

    This state is a dichotomy that I find myself more and more mesmerized by as I get older. I like exploring the nooks and cranies of places like Cuba and Olean. I can do Nassau County and SoHo anytime. I enjoy the roots that the Southwestern New Yorkers have put down and the fierceness with which they will and have protected their place. Out there they get no love. Hell, even in Albany people only remember us when a Governor pisses them off. But out there, on the Southern Tier; it's almost as if you've left the state instead of being surrounded by people moving quickly you're surrounded by serenity. I wonder how much peaceful the residents must feel as I continue to drive westward. I realize that what works about this amazing and diverse state is this: the differences, knowing that wherever you are in this state you will get what you need. And should worse come to worse Canada is just a few hours away.

    And have I mentioned that they have cheese?

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    Reader Comments (1)

    Born in Jamestown, and I also think Western New York is fascinating. I now live in Chicago, but childhood vacations were always spent at Grandma's in Jamestown. Plus, the country is so beautiful.

    December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEditdebs

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