I moved back to my hometown at the end of May, 2013.  At the time, I was sure that I would “get well” and then “get the hell out again.”  I will admit that my uncle’s constant spate of anti-home messages had likely influenced me.  He called Elmira a “cemetery with streetlights” and said that the best photo he had of the town was one that showed it in his rear view window.

But, what I found and can say with certainty now, is that moving home was a blessing – beyond that, it was God sent.  I came here the lowest, weakest, neediest I had ever been in my life as an adult.  I had been in the hospital (because I checked myself in), I could not keep a job, I had alienated a good number of my friends on and off, and I knew that I was on the edge of a breakdown or worse.  I had to move in with my parents at the age of 41, which was, at that time, humiliating.  I had no job or insurance – also humiliating.  I had few friends here and my relationship with my sister was strained at best.  My nephew and I were friendly, but not close.

Since moving home to Elmira and the Southern Tier, I can say that my life has improved exponentially.  Now, before you say to yourself, “Well, that’s because it was so low to begin with…” – let’s keep in mind that I have not lived in Elmira since I graduated from high school.  So, I have known over 20 years of living elsewhere, and even with that understanding, my life has improved.

I discovered a wealth of people interested in making Elmira and upstate NY as a whole a place to visit, do business, live.  I discovered artists and artisans all over the place – each offering a unique good or service.  I discovered people committed to helping the less fortunate in their community.  I discovered people in leadership positions who are willing to step up, speak out, help to make change happen.  I discovered young and old people committed to improving their communities and to being good citizens, friends, and human beings.  So much has changed, but a lot of it is just so great.

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