Sunday, July 20, 2008

Goodbye Rochester!

Ed. note: This post originally appeared in my 2008 food blog Fork It Over on the website of the Rochester Insider magazine, which is now Metromix Rochester. Since the old blog is no longer available online, I'm re-posting some of those posts here and backdating them to their original posting dates. Although in most cases they are specific to Rochester, hopefully you'll still find them somewhat interesting!  ~Rachel, 6/28/10

How would you spend your last two weeks in Rochester? (Well, aside from packing.) What favorite restaurants would you visit one last time? What new places would you go to even though you won't get a chance to go back again? What aspects of Rochester would you miss the most?

The time has come for me to move on, a little reluctantly. I've been here since 2003, first as a student at UR, and then as a lab assistant at Strong. I can sort of quantify how my love for Rochester has grown by looking at how I've answered the question "Where are you from?" over the last few years, when asked by people outside of Rochester. (When someone asks you the question on campus, you automatically default to hometown, so I'm just talking about people I've met on airplanes or in other cities and countries.) During freshman and sophomore year, the answer was always "Boston," and then I might add on the detail that I went to school in Rochester. Somewhere around junior year, I started to say "I live in Rochester now, but I'm originally from Boston." Towards the end of senior year, I'd specify that I'd been living in Rochester for about four years, but I was originally from Boston, and then I'd always add on "...I'm probably moving away for grad school, but I might move back to Rochester someday. I really like it there." And over the last year, until my move back to Boston became finalized, I found myself answering simply "Rochester" and leaving Boston out all together.

The summer before I began at UR, my only impression of Rochester was that it was snowy and crime-filled. "Well, at least the campus is nice," I thought. I was completely isolated on campus during my freshman year, hardly realizing that anything existed outside of Mt. Hope, Elmwood, and Wilson Boulevard. Fortunately, I met Ben at the beginning of my sophomore year. Ben had a car and a real passion for Rochester, so our first few dates consisted of tours around the city and surrounding areas. Throughout the next few years, we spent a lot of time exploring Rochester together. My parents liked to joke that I was majoring in Ben, but I was actually majoring in Rochester. (Sorry, UR Neuroscience department. I cared about you, but sometimes I guess I cared more about exploring my new home.) Using resources like RocWiki and friends who were knowledgeable about the area, we really started to feel like Rochester was our home. Ben is a non-native as well, originally coming from NYC, so a lot of people that we talked to were confused about why we liked Rochester so much, coming from bigger cities. (Disclaimer: I didn't actually grow up in Boston, just in a suburb about twenty-five miles south, but it's easier to say "Boston" when you're talking to people not from Massachusetts.) I love that so much art, music, theater, and food is packed into a small, manageable city. I love that I can run into people I know in bars downtown. And I love how within fifteen minutes, you can drive through a city, suburbs, and rural areas. In less than an hour, you're in wine country. In less than two hours, you can get to Buffalo, Syracuse, or Niagara Falls. Not only are there great things to do right in Rochester, but other nice areas are just a short drive away. Rochester has an unbelievable amount of variety in such a small space, and if you are willing to put in a little bit of effort, you'll never be bored. Winter can be tricky, but there is always plenty to do; you just need to look for it. In a city like Boston or New York, you don't have to try as hard. But because you need to work a little harder to have a relationship with Rochester, that relationship means a little bit more.

I've grown comfortable here, and as moving day looms in the near future, I'm feeling nervous about starting a new life in Boston. I'll be studying science journalism at Boston University, and Ben, who has decided to follow me to Boston, will be working at a web design firm in nearby Cambridge. It's silly, but it's the little things that I'll miss the most, like shopping trips to Wegmans and midnight snacks at Tim Horton's. (Well, Wegmans is actually finally moving into Massachusetts, just fifteen minutes from my hometown, but I'm sure it won't be ready for awhile.) (Ed. note: Still waiting... ~Rachel, 6/28/10) I'm going to miss French onion soup at The Distillery, pomegranate mojitos at Tapas 177, penne vodka at Pane Vino, and mojito criollo chicken from Dinosaur BBQ. Most of all, I'm going to miss the amazing view from my apartment building rooftop deck.

Frontier Field

So how would you spend your last two weeks?

I've been going about my routine as usual, without fully realizing that moving day is creeping closer and closer. All of a sudden, I'll be packing up the U-Haul, and I'll realize that I wish I had gone to a particular restaurant one more time, or attended one more ZooBrew, or walked through Highland Park again.

This will probably be my last post for a few weeks since my apartment isn't packing itself, and any time spent not packing should be spent enjoying Rochester. Next time you hear from me, I'll probably be writing about Restaurant Week Boston. (Go drool over the website if you have some time.) Yes, I will continue to write from my new home in Boston. I hope you don't mind that I won't be local anymore.

So, goodbye Rochester! It's been fun, and I do hope to move back here someday. I really like it here.


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