The following is an open letter to America.
My name's Chris. I’m a 28-year-old single guy with a dream and a few dollars in his pocket.
For the past 11 years, I’ve lived in this city called Binghamton. No, not Birmingham, or Burlington, or Binghampton … Binghamton.
It’s a pretty cool place, this Binghamton. I came here in 2003 because my high school guidance counselor told me Binghamton University was a pretty good school.
She was right. The school was, and still is, awesome. But forget brick and mortar; the University is filled with incredible people.
Many of the people in my life today are people that I’ve met through my college experience. My career began at the local newspaper, thanks to one of my professors who knew I could handle a “real-world” job. Six years later, I left the newspaper to go work for another Binghamton University alum who runs her own company just a couple blocks from my apartment.
Less than a month ago, I made official the most difficult decision of my life: to leave that job, to plan a sophisticated road trip around the country.
You know -- to come and see YOU.
Some of you, I will physically get the chance to see. To shake your hand. To give you a hug, maybe even a kiss. To take a selfie.
Some of you, I won’t get the chance to physically see. I’m sorry. But listen: whether we see each other or not, I want you to be a part of my trip, too, by following along via social media.
My goal this summer is to change the world, one smile at a time. Maybe reading this will make you smile; if so, sweet! -- mission accomplished. If not, I get it -- but I ask that you give me the opportunity to try again this summer.
The sacrifices I’ve made in my personal life are significant (though they pale in comparison to those of my friend James Byler). As I said, I left my job. I gave up my apartment. And today -- for now, at least -- I’m leaving these amazing people of Binghamton.
I’m making these sacrifices for you, America, because I’ve been blessed with two amazing gifts: the ability to articulate my thoughts through a keyboard, and a never-ending desire to seek out more beauty about which to write.
In 11 years in Binghamton, I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve watched my Bearcats dance into the NCAA Tournament. I’ve sipped from the AHL’s Calder Cup. I got to help promote Food & Fire, a transcendent BBQ restaurant owned by one of my best friends (who, of course, I met through that University). I dated the two prettiest girls at that newspaper, and tried (unsuccessfully, of course) to date a handful more.
It’s time for me to write the next chapter, and I want you to be a part of it.
So here is my challenge to you, America.
I want you to guide me through every step of this journey. When I’m in your city, or a city you’ve been to, I want to hear about every can’t-miss coffee shop, local brewery or sight-seeing opportunity.
I want you to Tweet those messages to me (@ChrisStrub, and use #TeamStrub), because honestly that’s the easiest medium for me to keep up with.
I want you to share this blog post with your friends and family, through Facebook, Twitter, email or any other means that you prefer.
I want you to challenge me. I want you to keep me on my toes, and help me discover experiences that I wouldn’t find in some official tourist guide.
I want you to introduce me to people whose stories need to be told, like Amy Shaw, whose 9-year-old daughter, Maddie, has Ewing’s Sarcoma -- and I will share those stories with everyone.
And, most importantly, I want you to help me make this world a better place, by helping bring attention and energy to those important causes that could use them.
The first cause is the city of Binghamton itself. An hour south of Syracuse, and roughly 2.5 hours northwest of New York City, this city is a damn good place to call home. The baseball team’s moniker, “A Big League Show at a Small Town Price,” actually fits the city itself pretty well.
Last Friday, the people of this city showed up at that barbecue restaurant to come say goodbye to me. Many of them stopped by to buy a #TeamStrub t-shirt. For anyone to consider spending a dime of their hard-earned money on me is astonishing, but it's a testament to the genuine heart and soul of this community. It tells me that they believe in ME, and I wanted to thank them by telling you, America, that I believe in them.
If you believe in what I’m doing this summer, you, too, can support me by buying a shirt. They are $25, plus $5 shipping. I understand that is a lot of money, but remember, my life is not sponsored by XXX Cheap Beer Brand, or XYZ Energy Drink -- this trip is sponsored purely by you. Additionally, a portion of each t-shirt sold goes to Pay Away the Layaway, one of my best friends' charities.
For $0.33 a day, I will make you smile every single day this summer. I will inspire you to live life like you mean it. And I will make this world a better place. And if this all works out, who knows -- maybe we can do it even bigger next year.
So that’s it, America. I hope I have the pleasure of meeting you this summer, but if not, I’m always just a Tweet away.
See you soon.