If it were January, eyebrow deep in snow, slush and ice, I might leave you without a backwards glance.
You've been my home for eight years and I've grown into you. Love you like a well worn pair of jeans or the perfect dress. I've scattered you with memories: memories that have grown root into brick, asphalt, earth.
The day I met you I was nineteen, eating French Onion Soup at the Corfu Diner watching traffic slide down Chestnut and turn left and right onto Main. I wondered how you'd fit me.
That fall I met my husband in an October fall of snow on your sidewalks.
I graduated from SUCO, still SUNY Oneonta to me then. You were supposed to be a phase: a place I tossed off with my cap, peel off with my gown, but you grew on me. You clung.
I became a local. You saw me married. Your bells rang out at nine, noon, and six through our window on Watkins Ave.
You housed our business, The LAN Gaming Center, where I met some of the most amazing boys, boys who are now young men. I got to make a difference, to be part of you.
After my son was born, you became even more of a home. It was in you I made my family.
Others may complain of your smallness, your winters, that you might be dull, but you are home of the kindest people.
In Oneonta, you can have conversations with cashiers, bank tellers, strangers on the street. In Oneonta the owner of the small Laundromat comes out to your car to help you carry in your clothes and holds your baby son for you while you fold them. In Oneonta your Yoga instructor holds a class for you even though you are the only student and it really isn't worth the money for her. Here, people know you by name.
In Oneonta, small enough to make us all close, you find family when you have none to turn to. Other mothers help you raise your child. Coworker become sources of comfort, have you over for dinner and maybe teach you to knit. Perhaps you are introduced to their pig and are given some of him in the fall!
Oneonta, I'm afraid that you've changed me for the better- made me a kinder, more generous person. One who is guaranteed to make more than a few city folk uncomfortable when I get a little too close and strike up conversation in the grocery store.
I may be going, but I would have been happy to stay. I'd like you to know that I'll take pieces of you with me. I hope you keep a few pieces of me too.
And Oneonta, I promise to visit, just not in the winter.