Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sunsets offer comfort during a difficult time

    Certain communities make a lasting impression. Geneseo is one of them.
    After following the account of the tragic deaths in the County News, it reminded me that I hold Geneseo close to my heart.

     The gorgeous sunsets over the Genesee Valley impacted me tremendously when I first arrived as a student. At the close of the day my homesickness was calmed, and optimism kept me plugging away at my studies throughout my freshman year.
      Even today, when I am driving away from the village, I often stop and look way out beyond the hills dotted with oak trees, and I feel my spirit lifted.
     Geneseo folks, don’t take those sunsets for granted. Especially at this time, get comfort from nearby natural beauty. It’s soothing to the soul and clears the head.
     My sympathy goes out to the families, friends, the Geneseo campus and the entire community. No, not one should be left out of love’s healing power for all have suffered.

     Just a short walk back and forth separates the college from the business district and the two populations are intertwined. It’s inevitable. Everybody knows everybody.
     Residents have posted beautiful pictures of Main Street around the fountain, as well as late night street shots on their Facebook pages.
     In my opinion, there is no downtown anywhere that has that particular charm any season of the year. Holiday tree lights. The fountain. Autumn fox hunts. Summer festivals. That’s Geneseo.
      The Geneseo Fire Department displays a loving tribute to a lost member. Driving past you will not forget.
     The flags on College Circle are flown half mast.
     Those are outward reminders of inward grief while the semester resumes, people go back to work and everyone processes what has transpired in their own way.
     Thanks to the first responders, police and all officials of the community for tireless work and public relations’ efforts.
      Geneseo will always be a part of me. I came 385 miles from Long Island to attend college, and although the campus was quite small in comparison to what it is today, it was my “home away from home” for four years.
     Frankly, at 17 years of age I had to search for Geneseo’s location on a map of New York State before sending in my college application.

      I am a proud SUNY Geneseo graduate in education, 
and later, I lived in the village for a ten-year period. Geneseo became more than the institution that I attended as a young woman. I built my first home there and my daughter was born into the community. Circumstances changed; otherwise, I might still be living in Geneseo.
     Today, I can navigate beyond the main quadrangle without getting too lost, and I know where the best places to park my car off-campus.
     I received an excellent education preparing me to become a teacher. During my career I took student teachers from Geneseo more as a paying it forward thanking those professors who guided me at the campus school.
    Actually, the sense of small community I found in college became one of the reasons I remained in the area for my lifetime. I didn’t know it at the time, and never paid attention to what was tugging at me, until further on in age. I suppose that is always the case.
      As a student I got a kick out of walking up town to Main Street and circling the fountain for a movie, or perhaps, a sub at Aunt Cookie’s. (I had my favorite watering hole, too.) I was conscious of supporting local businesses coming from a family with our own store. My hometown was large, sprawling and had a whole different feel to it.

     Looking back, I am glad that we weren’t allowed cars on campus until we became seniors. I would have driven off to Rochester too often and lost the flavor of the village.
     That feeling has stayed with me. Any day that I am in Geneseo and I have time, I stroll Main Street from end to end capturing its vibrant sights and sounds. I know fewer people than in the past, yet that doesn’t matter. From the Livingston County News office on the south to the Big Tree at the north, the architecture is magnificent.
     One afternoon last summer I hung around the farmer’s market on Center Street. I distinctly remember trying to put myself back in time to the period when I was a carefree student without a clue about all the complexities of life that would come later. I left with a bag of local produce and a lift in my step. The past had been kind to me, and so had Geneseo.
     When I was a student I was fascinated by the lovely historic homes and my hikes took me meandering up and down residential streets. I suppose I did a lot of thinking, too, and subconsciously, a few term papers were written.

     Over the weekend I attended “Nine” in Wadsworth Auditorium on campus. It was an innovative musical production with so much talent.
     Winding my way through the campus, I thought of the millions of times I trudged to the library or went to class, wondering what the future held for me. That’s certainly no different than the thoughts of today’s students.
     Unfortunately, Friday night’s sunset wasn’t much of a display. It was overcast and cloudy much like the mood all around Geneseo.
     There is hope in knowing that there will be more sunsets if you are patient. Stick together and demonstrate concern by your positive words and actions.

      Look out beyond the valley, Geneseo.