I think I am doing a difficult thing. I think I am falling in love with Ithaca. I am applying to four PhD programs, including Cornell. I have been looking at the cities as well as the schools. Ithaca, New York, looks particularly lovely. It is small, just around thirty-thousand people, not including most of the university students, I assume. It has gorges and hills, waterfalls and lakes, trees and rolling greens. And it's only a few hours drive from many of my favorite cities and all their lovely architecture. Today I looked to see how many bookstores it had, the true measure of a healthy city.
As the results popped up on Google, I thought to myself "Uh oh, this could be trouble." What if I don't get into Cornell? What if the mentor I find best is at Berkeley? What if Penn is the one that offers finacial support? What if I visit and it's not half as lovely as I find it from a few thousand miles away?
But the truth is, I want to get in to Cornell. I want to go to Ithaca. I want to study planning and visit Namgyal Monastery and the Institute of Buddhist Studies there. I want to find a cute little apartment in an old brick building with leaky windows and burbling radiators where my cat and I can put down new roots. I want to make space in my life for another person to join me there (though who that might be is less than specific). I want to write a book, or two or three.
I've been making lots of plans, but I haven't particularly wanted any of them over the other. They all have the same ingredients, but the place is less specific.
But now I want Ithaca and that troubles me perhaps more than it should.