We pull off the highway and I stare at the overpass in a daze caused by four hours of sleep followed by nine hours on my feet, and a five hour bus trip that I am just now halfway through. I know we are far from Baldwinsville, but for a moment I swear that when I turn my head I will see the Hess station, McDonald’s, and the vast grocery store parking lot. I can remember sitting in the blue Grand Cherokee parked next to the red truck, the hot pavement, my bare feet hanging out the window, and plain hamburgers with nothing on them becoming cheeseburgers with extra pickles.
Upon turning my head, I find nothing that I recognize because this is Binghamton, this is Southern New York, not Central New York, and while my New York City friends don’t get it, I know they have the capability. I know this because they implicitly understand that Brooklyn and Queens are completely separate from Long Island even though they’re on the same damn island and Houston Street is pronounced house-ton not hew-ston like the city in Texas. They just aren’t ready and maybe I, like them, simply don’t want to learn.
Maybe I want to cling to manual roll-down windows and bicycles and knowing that my home state extends beyond streets and neighborhoods and boroughs to villages and towns and cities that I have inscribed on myself, and myself onto.