What brings you to Wilkes-Barre?
This shouldn’t be the first thought that enters my mind when someone tells me they weren’t born and raised here, but it is.
I live in a culturally enriched community with several universities, tons of delicious restaurants and bakeries, along with unique shops and boutiques, and a pretty eventful social calendar.
This isn’t a Miranda Lambert song; we have more than one stop light, and not everyone is married by 22. But it is a small town and if you end up in the police blotter, people will know.
Bergdorf’s and Barneys are easily 100 miles away, but we have a Macy’s (really it’s just a Macy’s sign concealing a Kaufmann’s, but it’s a start).
For some reason, the area I was born and raised in – and eventually returned to – is the bane of existence for most. It makes people unhappy; they feel the need to apologize for their roots and they can’t wait to get out.
As a high school senior, I wanted nothing more than to leave. I was entranced by big-city life. I believed Manhattan was where I was destined to work and live. Chicago or Philadelphia would do, as long as I had skyscrapers, high fashion and subways.
Fast forward to my senior year in college. I applied everywhere in the tri-state area. I didn’t get the jobs in the big city; my career was taking me back home. At the time, I was frustrated and upset. But in the end, everything works out how it should.
It always does.
People get stuck in a rut, go to the same places, do the same things. We find ourselves in the same bar every weekend with the same people. It just seems that there is nothing to do, but that’s all in how we perceive it.
The lyrics of “Brat Pack” say, “Cause I don’t want to get stuck in here when I’m 34 just talking about high school years.” The Rocket Summer, though it seems, did not write about Wyoming Valley West High School.
Granted, there are many, let’s say, terrible people (for the sake of this column) within a 10-mile radius of me, with small-minded mentalities and hatred running through their blood. But these people are everywhere. Your life is what you make of it. Surround yourself with culture and art and the love of others, and I promise you there will always be a sense of fulfillment.
Bigger cities seem to have more choices, like getting tickets for a Broadway show or going to the opening of a new bar. Events are not always going to be so obvious; sometimes we need to delve a little deeper. Smaller towns don’t have as many options. But instead of bashing Northeastern Pennsylvania, we need to help build it up.
Many people once described the Wyoming Valley as a wonderful place to raise a family, but a stigma now sits on the very streets that raised me. People say how the crime and corruption have taken over like it’s a scene out of Batman, but honestly we just need to see the beauty in this town.
I am reaching out to all – start looking at the streets in a new light.
I want to feature businesses and events on my blog. I want to show people all that they can add to their social calendars. No more boring Friday nights. From the local theaters to restaurants, our area has so much going on. So comment, share and get the word out there. I want to know the best places to shop, where to eat the most delicious foods, and the hidden gems of NEPA!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can work to build up Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Ellen Siracuse, 26, is a Forty Fort resident and blogger. See more of what she’s written at theoxfordguide.wordpress.com.