September 01, 2008

That Unfamiliar Feeling

When I walked back into my apartment building tonight after a holiday weekend upstate, everything looked different. There was something about the lighting that had changed its appearance dramatically - too dark by the mailboxes, too bright upstairs by my door - such that I wasn't even sure I had the right building except that my key worked. I looked at the floor and couldn't remember if the carpeting always met the tile there by the door like that. And whether the hallway had always been that clinical and ugly.

I'm glad to be sleeping in my own bed tonight after a few restless nights in the attic, but it doesn't feel altogether familiar.

I kind of always feel like a stranger wherever I am, even back in Syracuse this weekend where I grew up. I never really lived in the city, locked in a tower for most of my childhood, so when I was trying to show Edith and Eric around, I didn't have much to show them.

But they came up mostly for the State Fair so there was plenty to see there, though my memories of it are all muddled up between excursions with my father and various trips with Maria and Stan as an adult. Though I'm a huge amusement park and ride fan, I was mostly looking forward to the food, dreaming about the dough-licious Villa Pizze Fritte that you can only get at the Fair. Unlike the fried dough and funnel cakes that New Yorkers are used to, the pizze fritte is an elongated stick-like piece of fried dough rolled in granulated sugar, which cascaded down the front of my dress when I bit into it. Edith and Eric both tried mine but didn't like it enough to order their own. Heathens!

Instead, they partook of the pig roast from the Mountainview Restaurant, which admittedly was impressive. The Twin Trees pizza we ate didn't taste like I remembered, but maybe I confused their pizza with Pavone's, whose taste I always recall whenever I get a slice at Pizza Box on Bleecker Street. I got so confused over the unfamiliarity of my taste buds that I just stopped eating at the Fair, passing over the Walkaway Sundaes and the Gianelli sausage. Blasphemy!

I think Edith and Eric were mostly into the animals showcased at the fair, after I'd talked up the purple chickens to them so much. After all, there's lots to see:



Bunnies that look like dogs!

We even got to pet some bunnies, but we had to fight small children to get to them.

I think staying with Maria and her nine pets has made me more receptive to, or at least comfortable with, animals. I was sticking my fingers in every cage, even when the signs were warning me that the animals (especially the goats) would definitely bite me. None of them did.

I did, however, get scratched by a cat and attacked by two huge huskies at Maria's house, reminding me that all good things must come to an end, and that puppies grow up and forget you, and become huge growling dogs that just want to knock you down instead of cuddling up on your lap. It's hard to love something that's going to change, and one day be totally unrecognizable to you.

On our way out of town today, we drove by my parents' house just to ogle it. We spotted my father mowing the lawn out front, wearing safety goggles and looking old. I barely recognized him, or the house, whose chocolate brown siding was painted a light color sometime after I moved out and whose driveway now houses a big SUV truck that my parents must've bought in the year and a half since I last saw them.

At times during my trip home this weekend, I considered whether I could ever move back, enjoying the huge frozen margaritas at Texas Roadhouse (as good as Rodeo Bar!) and taking in the glorious weather we had this weekend. But when it comes down to it, I'm not a hometown girl, even where I grew up, and now that I'm back in New York, I don't know where to call home.

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