1 + 1 = SyracusePosted: March 27, 2014
There are times when one plus one equals two. But now and then, you look at one, you look at the other one and when you add those together you get five.
When one and one equal five, there are usually logical reasons to think that’s the answer. Once, when I was very young, I added one plus one.
And the answer was Syracuse.
The Hazy Flashback Part
I’ve no idea why I remember this because it happened when I was in first grade. Given that I can cross a room, open a drawer and forget what I was looking for, it feels odd that this matter sticks in my mind years decades later.
When I was a kindergartener, it seemed to me that the first graders had it tough. Whenever my class walked by the first grade classroom the nun/teacher was tearing into someone. A lesser man would say she seemed to make a habit of abusing her class. It’s a darned good thing I’m not that lesser man.
Anyhow, the word got to us from the big kids that the first grade nun was as bad as we thought. I dreaded the idea of moving up to her classroom. I knew that I inevitably would.
And the next fall, when I walked in to that classroom, she wasn’t there. A new nun, or at least a new to me nun, was there to teach my class.
When the new (to me) nun introduced herself she said Sister Mary Brutality had grown too old to teach so she’d retired and gone to Syracuse. As I walked home after school, the second grader next door told me that there was a new nun in her classroom too. Surprisingly, the nun from that classroom had also gone to Syracuse.
Do The Math. 1+1= Syracuse
I never realized before that day that there was anyplace on the planet named Syracuse. My mother fleshed out the developing picture I was creating of the place by telling me it was in New York. My mind wandered off to create my vision of what Syracuse was. Based on what I knew, it became a place in New York where nuns were sent after they were too old to teach. One plus one equals Syracuse.
I imagined Syracuse as a very plain, severe place. It wasn’t a city; it was just a place. I imagined it like a walled fort. It was populated entirely by elderly nuns. It was a very orderly place since everyone there was a disciplinarian armed with a yard stick. Just as in the classroom, anyone (anynun?) who dared stray from the norm in Syracuse felt the wooden sting of justice.
Later in elementary school I learned that the Erie Canal passed through Syracuse. I began to realize that it really was a city that elderly nuns were perhaps only one part of. Decades have passed since I created my terrifying, imaginary Syracuse. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the real city that I’ve been told it is.
I think if I had the chance to go, I’d probably pass on Syracuse. You can’t argue with math.