Something happened my first week in New York City. I picked up a copy of New York magazine–because I wanted to buy a copy in New York and because I wanted to read the article on Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who is carrying around a mattress as a way to protest that her alleged rapist is still on campus. But buying the magazine is not what happened. It happened but it’s not the thing that happened that I want to discuss. As I sat on the sidewalk at Citi Field after the last game of the season, waiting for a friend who was in turn waiting for the Astros’ bus to leave the grounds, I pulled out the wrinkled copy of New York I had in my bag and started the crossword puzzle in the back. I foud it riveting. I didn’t want to stop until I finished it. And finish it I did, almost 24 hours later, in a cafe in Binghamton, NY.
I rode BC Transit for the first time in years. Everything in Binghamton felt like the first time in years: taking the bus, sitting in a professor’s office (I caught up on work while my friend taught), eating local food, even seeing the leaves change color. I took many pictures of Binghamton while I was there. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it. Or maybe I was looking for a place that meant something to me, to the me before I got married, had a child, became an editor. Oddly I felt like at the end of the day I was going to take the bus back to my old address, the place I lived in before I met my husband. Being in Binghamton felt like finding one of my selves again. I needed that.
Plus, I had a good ol’ time in Binghamton, in general.
Thursday was busy, but it was rough: I was getting a cold and Thursday was the day it tried to run me over. As I type this I am feeling much better even if I’m still sniffling, clearing my throat, and blowing my nose. I would not let this cold stop me though. My friend had invited me to talk to her graduate students about using Twitter as an early-career academic. It would be my first time stepping in front of a Binghamton University classroom as Dr. Silva–and I was elated, cold meds haze notwithstanding. As I picked out my clothes, I thought long and hard: what would Dr. Silva look like in Binghamton? Of course I didn’t have the outfit I would have wanted to wear (gotta pack light) but I wore the outfit in the picture and felt good about it.
I still wonder what students think when they see a Latina at the front of the classroom. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay on the tenure track. But the reasons to get off outnumbered the ones to stay.
One of the reasons I took this trip was to a) see the Astros in New York b) recharge my creative and emotional batteries. Some people do that at a lake or at a cabin in nature. Me, I come to New York. It’s about my family, my friends, my research, my history. But it’s also about the city. As I walk, I want to write and take pictures. I look at newspaper headlines and I get ideas. People talk to me about their lives here and my mind wanders and makes connections between the conversation at hand and something I read years ago. At times all I need to do is look up from my uptown bus window and take a picture.
What I didn’t expect was that I’d be flooded with memories and I’d be trying to hold back my tears as I walked to the bus stop.