I am once again sitting in a service area on the New York State Thruway. This service area of choice is called Scottsville and is in the Rochester area. Earl is out of town on business in Knoxville, Tennessee, hence my little road trip today. I just got off the phone with him and wished him sweet dreams. He was concerned about my driving home this late (I still have over two hours to drive and it’s currently 10:45 p.m.) He forgets that I love driving at night.

I spent the day driving to the southwestern most part of New York State and explored around the city of Jamestown. Once upon a time I lived there. I actually had two appearances in Jamestown, 1987-1988 and 1990-1991. I’ve taken Earl there a couple of times since. Today I spent quite a bit of time there looking around and reminiscing.

I find Jamestown to be an interesting city. First and foremost it’s the hometown of Lucille Ball. You can not look in any direction in the downtown area without seeing an image of Lucy on a billboard or a poster or on a building. It’s also home to Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs, and her music is still quite prevalent on the local station, SE 93.

The area around Jamestown is also very scenic. Rolling hills lead the way to Chautauqua Lake. While Chautauqua Lake is similarly sized, it doesn’t really fit in with the neighboring Finger Lakes of Upstate New York. It sort of does it’s own thing. Wineries dot the shoreline of nearby Lake Erie. Old villages such as Fredonia and Falconer still have active, vibrant downtown areas. It’s hard to describe, but I feel very comfortable in the terrain and vibe of Chautauqua County. While hilly, it still feels expansive. In the Mohawk Valley, where we live now, it’s hilly but it feels very closed in to me. I never feel completely settled in the Mohawk Valley. The pace in Jamestown is a little more relaxed and the natives are decidedly friendlier. I think it’s because that corner of The Empire State is knocking on the Midwest’s front door, and I’ve always been a fan of the Midwest.

As I drove around Jamestown and Chautauqua County today, I realized that when I had lived there I never really allowed myself to enjoy the experience. I was part of a relationship that wasn’t going very well. He had grown up in the area and was constantly looking for a way out. I didn’t allow myself to like that area simply because I was always being shown the negative aspects to living there. “It snows.” “There’s no ocean.” “It’s not progressive.”

Looking back at myself almost 20 years ago, I guess I’ve since learned that life is what you make of it. While I believe that we have a basic idea of what we’re going to do when we come into this life (via reincarnation), I fully believe that you make your own paradise or you make your own hell. My ex was choosing his own hell and trying to pull me into it. (By the way, he deserted the area long ago and lives somewhere on the ocean in California. I hope he’s happy. I don’t need to confirm if he is or not. I don’t really care.)

Today I saw the area in a whole new light and I really liked what I saw. It felt good. I felt like my smiles and warm feelings chased away the negativity I had 20 years ago. While stopped for supper, I cheered on the Buffalo Sabres right along with the rest of the crowd. (Jamestown is about 80 miles from Buffalo.) I really like the sports fan pride that’s so obvious as you drive around. We don’t have that at home. I told Earl I was going to start cheering on Buffalo for all sports and he told me “not football.” I told him, “we’ll see” (Earl is an Eagles fan).

So now I’m getting back on the Thruway, totally sugared up with a couple of donuts from Tim Hortons (thank the Universe they have Tim Hortons out here!) and ready to rock the road.