Rochester,How wrong I was. As you have guessed, I have once again left you for another. You must think me cruel, but I was young—I am young, and privy to such indiscretions. Alas, Rochester, I have gone mad. I do not expect your forgiveness, your sympathy, or anything from you for that matter, for you have given me enough. I write to say I was wrong. For years I pushed you away, muttering the three syllables preceding the comma and the “NY.” For years I dreamed of anything but you.But today, my mind’s eye is open. The lilacs waft amidst the sweat and hormones of my modernist prison, the inescapable cold is warmed by the meaty zest of hot sauce, and the frenetic migrations through Wegmans, so comforting, yet so distant. You are as complex as your history and as simple as the smell of stale coffee and cigarettes that roused me from slumber during sleepovers at Nana’s; jam and runny eggs.And for some reason, I rejected you. And once I was away, I forgot you.I have been meaning to write you for years. After a considerable amount of time away, something began to change in me. It began in my dining hall as I dipped my pizza into a dollop of bleu cheese. The looks of horror struck me as odd, and for the first time I felt the divide. Others began immediately assuming by “New York” I meant “Manhattan. Corrections were met with:“Is that in Westchester?”“How far are you from the city?”“That’s like Buffalo, right?”Wrong.“What about Rochester?” What about the barbeque, the Buffalo wings, the festivals, the beer, the communities, and the great people inscribed into a picturesque landscape? What about Manhattan Square Park at Christmastime, 100.5 The Drive, and Pontillo’s slices with blue cheese? What about these “so-called-New Yorkers” who hadn’t seen 99% of their state let alone the Flower City?Today, Rochester, I must live with my abandonment. But today, I assert my pride, drenching my pizza in bleu cheese. Today, I write you this long overdue love letter as an apology for my indiscretions. I will return to you in six weeks’ time, more appreciative than the last; however, I will leave you again. In my heart you shall always remain.With the utmost admiration and love,Alex Fiorille
You’ve remained standing after your largest employer has virtually vanished in a single generation.
You’ve endured the most offensive and undeserved negative commentary by your own residents and those from other cities who feel some sadistic need to put you down.
You’ve been to hell and back and stand to fight another day, another year, decade, century. Your future is a question mark.
I am overwhelmingly confident, however, that your future is blindingly bright.
You’ve taken more blows than most cities have and will ever know. Beyond that, you’ve withstood these seemingly endless assaults alone.
Unlike your neighbor to the west, which has been showered with billions (literally) of cash, you have quietly stood by, fighting an arguably unwinnable fight with few allies.
Your informed observer is likely aware that your bleeding has come to an end because quite simply, there is little left to take from you. You have experienced profoundly awful days in recent memory. Those days, if not already gone, are nearing their end.
What remains is a city with a proud past and a future that will reveal a renewed Rochester, filled with more pride than its ever known.
Rochester, your future is not defined by the success or self-induced failure of two or three companies. Rather, your days, years and decades ahead will reveal a city with incomparable will. Your story will eventually be the envy of cities that have fallen on hard times.
Without outside aid, you’ve saved yourself from disaster. What’s more, you’ve paved the way to your own unassailable success story without a compass.
You still have a daunting list of complicated issues to work though. While all of your admirers are painfully aware of each of those issues, we are even more aware of your perseverance and stubborn unwillingness to fail despite astronomical odds.
You’ve been through more than you deserve, Rochester. Fortunately, all of us admirers, secret and known, will continue to support you by playing whatever role we can to help see our beloved home through any tribulation. You’ve more than proven that you deserve our unwavering and unconditional loyalty, love and sheer admiration.
Years in Rochester: 31 +
Current Home: 27 years in Pittsford
I am: A recent UofR graduate who got to know the city as a student, intern, volunteer, motorist, concert-goer, Wegmans patron, and more.
I have been awful to you. While you have held me since birth, and all my 25 years, I have not been faithful.
I have walked your sidewalks, drank in your bars, laid in your parks, and kissed under your street lights. I have laughed and loved on your streets.
I have abandoned you.
I went West, and loved another city, all but replacing you in my heart. Then, when that city betrayed me and I couldn't bear to be there, I ran to you, and you enveloped me again, without judgement.
I fell in love with you in a whole new way. There are new parts of you to enjoy, and my favorite places feel more like home than ever before.
There are parts of you that are broken and need mending. Just like me.
Together, we can fix our broken parts.
I would be a rudderless ship without you. A wanderer with no real place to anchor.
I have been a selfish child, and I'm sorry. I have learned how to truly appreciate you, and no city can ever replace you. I know that now.
You are scarred. You are burned. You are broken.
But, my sweet Rochester, you are so beautiful. Everyday, you somehow steal my heart and make it you're again.
As I sit here on South Avenue in my favorite neighborhood and watch the cars go by, you inspire me.
You are stronger than I could ever hope to be.
Just the mere fact that you accepted me after leaving you and being unfaithful is humbling.
But you have allowed me to succeed-fostering new friendships, building a new relationship (that I have you to thank for), giving me an education, and helping me find a career.
All those things would never be possible in the same place without you.
You made me who I am.
Rochester, my darling, my love, I'm so sorry for what I have done to you. I will never be able to make up for what I have done.
But if you let me try, we can both be stronger, and heal.
All my love, all my days.
I am: Mother of two beautiful daughters (9 & 6 yrs old), wife of a pretty awesome husband, member of a kick-ass family, neighborhood and city enthusiast, non-profit administrative professional (currently working for Rochester Downtown Development Corporation)
Years in rochester: 18 childhood years + 11 adulthood years = 29 years
Current home: Highland Park neighborhood
I write this love note sitting on a bench in Highland Park, my happy place. In fact, this whole city is my happy place. But I haven't always thought of you this way. I’m a Rochester native, born and raised here. I was the product of a self-doubting city (did they teach it in school?), and when I left for college, I was one of those people who said, "I'll never come back here." Rochester was for losers. I was going out into the big wide world and was going to stay there, thank you very much. I stayed away summers, and didn't spend more than a few nights back home over school breaks. I spent about 10 yrs living in the fine city of Boston, a place with a constant hum, with national sports teams, with shopping and culture galore. But it was a lonely place, full of transients, and community was hard to come by. I didn't know my neighbors and they didn't know me. When I went to the grocery store, the chances of running into a familiar face were slim to none. I was anonymous, disconnected. The decision to return to Rochester (dragging along my Boston native husband) was mainly due to my large and loving family calling me, and because it was a place we could afford to buy a nice house where we would start a family.
-A town full of neighborhoods like mine (Highland Park) where people are connected to each other, and passionate about where they live
-A town small enough to see people you know everywhere you go (and have fun figuring out your degrees of separation), but big enough that you will always keep meeting new and interesting people
-A town that's "Big enough to get Springsteen. Small enough to get tickets.*"
-A town with more festivals and culture than I could ever take in
-A town where I can take my kids to a great ballpark without breaking the bank
-A town with beautiful parks to enjoy, and in short driving distance to gorgeous natural sights and places to visit
-A town with short commutes, where everything I need is in a 5-10 minute radius, so I get to spend my time doing things I care to do
-A town with four unique seasons, where I've learned to embrace the beauty and fun of winter
Over the years I developed first a defensiveness, then an outright pride in my hometown. In fact, put me on a plane seated next to a stranger and I'm a traveling promotional advertisement for the place.
So I'm writing to say that I'm sorry I ever wrote you off, Rochester. You're one cool chick. And I want to thank you for being my happy place.
Name: Evan Lowenstein
I am: Dad, husband, from Painted Post in the Southern Tier, eternally awestruck by nature and humanity and committed to preserving both"
Years in Rochester: 1999-2013
Current Home: Charlottesville, Virginia
Ana Liss, Laura Fox and Tanya Zwahlen are three like-minded Rochestarians trying to improve the discussion about Rochester by showing her a little love.
|From left: Laura Fox, Ana Liss, and Tanya Zwahlen|
Ana Liss was born in the South Wedge and grew up in Pittsford. She fell in love with Rochester as a kid, frequenting the Public Market, Seneca Park Zoo, and the Strong Museum with her family; and nabbing more than her fair share of chocolate chip cookies out of the free cookie bin at Wegmans during the '90s. Today, she's helping to build a brighter future for all of Upstate as an Empire State Fellow working in the New York State Executive Chamber on Governor Andrew Cuomo's economic development team. Previously, she worked in business development and policy analysis at the Greater Rochester Enterprise and the Center for Governmental Research; and was President of the Monroe County Young Democrats. Before that, she was the morning news anchor at WETM 18 News in Elmira, and did a stint as a reporter for our own 13 WHAM News. She is a staunch defender of the Flour City, possessing a war chest of trivia knowledge about it that sometimes comes in handy. Try her.
Laura Fox is an urban planner working for Bergmann Associates as a full-fledged Rochester resident after ten years of convincing her family that she'd never return. After a four-year love affair with Philly, she backpacked around the world for over a year, became a yoga instructor, worked on a bunch of farms in places difficult to find on a map and earned her Master's in Boston when the siren's call from Rochester became too loud to ignore. Her love for Rochester is wrapped up in her love for and from her family, boyfriend and friends. As an adult now living and working in Rochester she is inspired by the possibility of progress and sense of optimism alive in the city and her supporters. She spends her free time dreaming up ways to grow food in the city, running in the woods and being slowly converted into a carnivore by the culinary skills of her boyfriend Marty of Marty's Meats.
Tanya is a city planner who relocated to Rochester from Boston via Ithaca in 2003. She tried not to love Rochester, but gave in around 2005. In 2007, she founded a city planning consultancy called Highland Planning, which specializes in commercial district revitalization and public outreach. In 2012, Tanya and her friend Jason Haremza started Young Lion, a company that creates works of art that celebrate Rochester as a place of opportunity and culture. She lives in the Highland Park neighborhood with her husband (Christian), their two children (Claire and Hartley), four chickens (Princess, Featherball, Deer Boss and Freckles), and cat (Ginger).
Current Home: Monroe Village
Years in Rochester: For life, except for college
My Dearest Rochester,
I Am: Teacher
Rochester is a girl who doesn't realize she's hot. This web site is a collection of love notes and reflections that highlight her strange allure. They are written by her admirers, those who openly adore her and some who are secretly crushing on her from afar. We invite you to share your stories with us. We hope that this collection of notes will help us all become a little more comfortable with and a little more open about how much we love our city. And that, as new stories are posted, we will realize that in spite of her imperfections, Rochester is worthy of our deep admiration.
We welcome our fellow admirers to submit their love notes to us at lovenotesrochester (at) gmail.com. Notes should be written to the City of Rochester -- she’s a girl. Make it short and sweet by keeping it under 500 words and 3 photos or fewer. Tell us a little bit about yourself -- your name, your current home, how long you've lived (or used to live) in Rochester and your profession should do. Or if you prefer, your love note can be anonymous (who doesn't want a secret admirer?). Our editorial team reserves the right to remove inappropriate content and correct grammatical and formatting issues.
The content of this site is a compilation of many authors thus the views expressed in individual notes do not reflect the views of other note writers. Submitting your note gives us the permission to share it elsewhere.