Don’t I Already Know Everyone In Corning By Now?
A year ago, while I was apartment sitting in Brooklyn, pretending to be a city person, I was supposed to write a simple blog post about the Bare Bones Café and instead ended up drafting a personal manifesto declaring my love and loyalty for my hometown. It was a fairly humbling admission–one that was both invigorating and terrifying. There I was, publicly committing to stay put in a small town after having such a long history of wandering off to Big Cities. Even now, I still run into acquaintances I don’t often encounter who ask me, “Oh! Are you in town visiting?” and I bashfully explain that I’ve been living here for the past two years.
Yes, on the one hand, this past year for me has been wildly affirming that I do, in fact, belong here. My roots run deep here. I am thoroughly grateful that my efforts are recognized and appreciated here. For pete’s sake, I got a room full of people to make a pledge to nurture arts and culture with courage and gumption! And you better believe I’ve got more creative stuff up my sleeves for 2019!
But, on the other hand (and you knew that was coming), there are aspects of this small-town living that I’d be remiss to gloss over. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, this goes out to all the Corning area singles: it can be downright daunting to attempt dating in such a small pool of folks, many of whom you probably went to high school with or who are somehow automatically ruled out in one way or another. And when things don’t work out with someone, you know you will run into them at Wegmans. It’s just the Wegmans Fact of Life.
Even if you’re happily paired up or contentedly tending to family, sometimes it can be tricky to branch outside of established social circles. Of course, I’d proudly yell from the rooftops how much I love my circles of friends. But, there are times when, again, you’re at Wegmans and realize you don’t recognize a single person there. How is that even possible in Corning? Furthermore, how does a full-grown adult (especially those who are shy or who don’t have a lot of time) go about making a new friend who is totally outside their current circles?
Of course, there are apps for everything and anything these days. Dating apps (Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Hinge, etc., etc., etc.), making new friends apps (MeetUp, Peanut, Skout, Meet My Dog), professional networking apps (LinkedIn, Happening, Shapr), in addition to the standard Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But with so many choices of apps, so many swipes and likes and DMs to distract even the most focused individuals out there, how many authentic interactions and true bonds come out of a purely digital introduction?
To be perfectly honest, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to reach out to new and intriguing folks in person with a simple handshake and a “Hi! My name’s Amelia.” And yes, I’ve tried the apps, and sure, they can work for certain folks. But for me, I’m going small-town analog. Because no matter how deep my roots go or established my circles are, there is always room for more connections, more friendship, and more unforgettable moments that will make me fall in love with Corning over and over again.