Letter From New York: A Tale of Two Towns

Letter From New York
June 10, 2009
A Tale of Two Towns

With credit to Kate Thorsey

Anyone who has followed my musings for the last oh so many years is aware much of my heart lives in the Hudson Valley, in Claverack, on its named creek, on my God’s little two acres. A good portion of my life resides around that spot and when I am gone too long my heart yearns for it in a way it has for no other place I have inhabited in my life. That cottage is my home, the refuge I have preserved against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – the place I have clung to through the ups and downs of life and the place I have retreated to in order to heal.

Yet there is the reality I must, in my business, travel extensively, spend huge amounts of time in New York City and I have learned, particularly in the last weeks, a part of my heart resides there also. Long, long ago when I was living in Los Angeles I recall a time returning from New York when I breathed a sigh of relief as the flight crossed the Rockies and headed into the west that was then my home, a relief that grew deeper as we flew closer to LA over the sandy desert colored its many shades of burnished ochre. I feel that same feeling now when I bounce through the rutted streets of New York City on my return from some journey. I feel it even more when I fly into Albany International Airport, working my way south to the cottage passing familiar places that make my face smile – such as the turnoff to my friends Chris and David’s home where I have had so many memorable times, including one awesome lobster adventure that caused all attending to imagine they were at a Roman bacchanal.

Like many people I know in Columbia County I call it home and must, for various reasons, including psychological and financial ones, remain attached to the buzz and jive of New York City, appreciating that and the bucolic ideal of the Hudson Valley. Would I appreciate Claverack as much if I did not have the contrast of New York City? Perhaps. I do have the contrast so I am deeply appreciative. I also know the limitations of the countryside; while wonderful there is the siren call of the bright lights of the big city. We humans seem to want both and – lucky me – I have both. I can revel in the city yet know I can jump a train north [thanks to my ten pass ticket] and in two hours be home. Because when all is said and done it is Claverack that wins the battle for my heart and will be the place, God willing, where I’ll be at the end of my time.

Though I have been there eight plus years this is still a new feeling for me – it’s one I have never had before. In the rare times people have spoken to me about jobs outside of New York I have always known I did not want to give up that place, that one small place where I have had a sense of home — in most of my life I have let career choose where I live. Now my choices include that place which gives me a sense of home.

It’s not perfect; no place or situation is. It is better than any other place I have been. I feel torn between two worlds – as do many of the folks I know in the Valley. While they would like to be there full time there is not a sufficient platform to support us so we must remain divided between two towns. I must labor in the city to enjoy the pleasure of “home.” The labor in the city is less burdensome because it supports “home.”

I expect I will live for a number of years more in this “tale of two towns” and at the end I expect I will follow my heart home. May everyone be so lucky.

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