lost, for a little while


destination: syracuse
March 27, 2011, 9:52 pm
Filed under: trips

The Arts & Sciences Building

Ah, Syracuse. We meet again.

I’m not one of those proud alumni who slap bumper stickers on their cars, or fiercely root for their team in sports matches, or get all nostalgic about their college days. Syracuse and I very much have a love-hate relationship that teeters toward the latter more often than not, so I was a little hesitant when I added this stop to my list. But, part of this trip has been about getting to see as many of my friends as possible, and my buddy, Darien, is finishing up grad school there right now, so a stop was necessary.

Good news: it’s totally possible for Syracuse to be a nice place to visit, even though I still never want to live there again. Darien and his roommate, Shannon, were fabulous hosts who let me mooch off of their food and completely take over one of the couches in the living room for three days. Hooray!

When I got into town, Darien and I headed down Westcott Street to a place I never visited as an undergrad: Metro Lounge & Cafe. It looked kind of seedy at 6 o’clock with its empty dance floor, but since it was a Tuesday, the sushi menu was half off. And if there’s one thing I like better than sushi, it’s cheap sushi (I think Mondays are half-price, too). I’m sure the quality doesn’t compare to more upscale places, but it met my two requirements: it was tasty, and I didn’t get food poisoning. So, high-five, Metro!

Wednesday morning, I sat in on the calculus class Darien teaches and alternated between feeling ridiculously old  compared to his students, and grinning at his adorable argyle sweater. (Every teacher should own one.) During the time between his classes, we grabbed pitas at El  Saha, which has actually managed to stick around Marshall Street since the time I graduated. The restaurant was advertising itself as having been rated #29 on the list of Best Late Night College Eats by Complex Magazine. Neither of us had any clue what Complex Magazine is, and I kind of suspect it only made the list because someone working there was an SU grad with fond memories. That being said, the pitas are perfectly fine, and I can see how it would be a healthier option for the post-bar stumble home, at the very least.

Dinner that night was courtesy of one of my former professors from the Magazine department, and we caught up and chatted while enjoying a meal at The Mission in downtown Syracuse. Although she had been the one to suggest it, The Mission is one of my favorite restaurants in town and used to be my place of choice for birthday dinners. The building used to be a Methodist Church, and research suggests that the basement was a regular stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, it still sports beautiful stained-glass windows, but it’s more commonly known for its excellent menu of Mexican food. Go there when you desperately want to forget that it’s 20 degrees outside and another six inches of snow just dumped on the ground. The sangria will help.

Thursday presented itself with an afternoon free of classes or teaching, so Darien and I cruised aimlessly around the streets of nearby Cazenovia and found ourselves following signs to Chittenango Falls. Nothing too epic, but certainly a nice surprise find for when the itinerary’s empty and the sun’s decided to finally shine for a bit.

Chittenango Falls

Sun or no sun, it was still really fucking cold, so returning home to the steaming pot of chili that we’d assembled earlier that morning was nothing short of awesome. Add in the chocolate-espresso cookies we’d somehow managed to throw together the night before, and Darien and I were batting two for two in terms of deliciousness.

I finished off my visit with a stop at Chuck’s, the bar of choice for the average SU student, even though everyone I talked to said that it was strictly for undergrads. Luckily, I had me some undergrads to visit with. Plus, while I was at Rodale, the SU contingent there wouldn’t stop praising their great times at Chuck’s, and I was beginning to wonder if they were thinking of a different place than the one I’d visited a handful of times — a Chuck’s with bright lighting, a superb beer selection, and intelligent conversation.

The Infamous Chuck's

Answer: nope. But I suppose that’s what college is all about: cheap Miller Light, often-crude messages written on every surface available in marker (or, in some cases, etched into the wood), and an overall feeling that you’re in somebody’s basement. Good times. I met up with my friends at just past ten, and we scored a coveted table before the pre-gamers started to roll in at 11:30. I caught up, heard some good stories, and enjoyed the cheapest Blue Moon I’ve had in my entire life ($3.75 a bottle). All in all, one of my best Chuck’s experiences ever.

Morning came much too quickly, and I soon had to hit the road for New Hampshire. I’m pleased to report, however, that (for possibly the first time ever) I felt a small bit of affection wash over me as I watched the university grow smaller in my rearview mirror. Maybe it really is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Will need to test this theory when the 10-year reunion rolls around.

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