"The Place That God Forgot"

That’s the pet name that one of my best friends has for our old hometown of Binghamton, NY. I think it’s a bit harsh, but I do know where she’s coming from.

My sister Leslie flew from San Diego to Albany on August 10, and my mother from Charlotte, NC to Albany on August 12. One doesn’t fly into Binghamton from hardly anywhere; it cheaper to fly into Albany or Syracuse or New York City, then rent a car or take a bus.

Leslie, my mom and I drove down to Binghamton that weekend for my sister’s XXth high school reunion; my mom and I saw friends. I was hanging out with another one of my friends from grade school when three very drunk people approached us about going somewhere on foot at 7 pm; there just isn’t very much to do in downtown Binghamton most evenings, though there are pockets of improvements.

Binghamton is an odd place. Where I grew up in the 1960s, in the First Ward, the housing stock is much the same, and therefore deteriorating or vacant, mixed with these incongruous pockets of yuppie houses with Beemers in front.

But it’s my hometown. More specifically, it’s my mom’s hometown, and she gets joy visiting our old church, her old friends. We’ve done that trip three or four years n a row now. Binghamton’s only 150 miles from Albany, but it feels like a half a lifetime away; for my mom’s sake, it’s worth the trip.

Happy 80th birthday, Mom.

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