Johnson City, NY

If I could I'd make sure everyone knew that I'm not from Binghamton, but Johnson City New York, since I dislike Binghamton and try not to go there when I don't have to. I've lived in the center of human consciousness -New York City, the Republic of Texas, and a state that has wildlife and insects from a science-fiction movie -sweat-down-the-crack Georgia. These places made me remember why I always defended being from Johnson City when someone would repeat a passage from the teenage dictionary of received ideas on hometowns.

I miss the comfort of the abandoned EJ factories -they were torn down, I miss taking walks with my great-aunt down main street in Johnson City and going to the parks that used to have working equipment for kids to play on. I love how pointless it is to have someone called 'mayor' when he's retired from any type of work, including mayoral duties outside of being present at graduations and grand openings. I miss how 80's the local mall was in the 80's where every teenager with clear braces hung around, and a gaggle were always outside smoking. I miss the smell of my elementary school and the crappy made-up games from gym class.

Binghamton is a scary place where I was abandoned daily by my parents when they had to go to work. Binghamton is a courthouse, Boscov's, and some bridges and bars. Johnson City is neighborhoods of old people and kids, and where I have walked every single street. New York City is a sickening nausea of people trying to walk faster than people should on a sidewalk. Texas is obviously a flat, barren, obese state of southern dialect. Georgia is highways and gas stations and strip malls and liquor stores, and you can't understand what people are saying -but you can understand that they don't like being outside. Being outside in Georgia is like being outside in Florida, except in Florida there are some interesting things to look at. Johnson City is hills and a valley, a smelly river, and secret adventures with your best friends through the woods and adventures with girls in their basement rec rooms.

When I walk down any street in Johnson City I don't feel mentally ill. There's the place I was babysat, my favorite restaurant for Mexican, the cemetery where I used to sit and think after baseball games I got an 'L' next to my name, and a tv station I yelled obscenities at nightly before driving past the Brady Bunch house. I feel alienated from the human race when I'm not in Johnson City. Tony's Texas Hots and a trip to the post office remind me that I'm going to die someday, and right now there are other conscious beings who recognize my presence in space-time.

I don't need a baseball card shop or crappy grocery store to still exist for me to feel at ease in a geographical setting. Johnson City is upstate New York personified and made present to me for as long as I am sentient. As long as people here still reject the idea of 'Greater Binghamton' or anything homogenizing like that, and believe that Binghamton is not the same as Johnson City I will feel certain in my youthful perceptions of what it means to be upstate and at home.

By Joe

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