Thursday, March 20, 2014

Love Note #22: Buried in Love


When I left this morning, after an hour of shoveling, everything was buried. But tonight I came home to a completely clean driveway, a path to my trash can, a street where every place a car parks on the right hand side was totally down to the pavement. I wasn't the only non-snowblower owning house to look like this. Clearly you have a heart of gold. I started crying. I feel, especially lately, that there aren't that many people left who just do good things because it's the right thing to do. 

You, Rochester, are different and full of those kinds of people. I'd like to know who you are so I can give you a bottle of wine, homemade poundcake, and a hug. Thank you for making this stressful month a little less so.


Deanna has lived in Rochester for 10 years and has recently bought a house in the Park Ave. neighborhood on Brunswick Street where the neighbors are just the most amazing people ever.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Love Note #21: I love you because you helped raise me

Name: Tyler Pauly
I am: A senior at St. Bonaventure
Years in Rochester: All 21, except while away at college
Current home: Pittsford

Dear Rochester,

I love you because you helped raise me. Your four seasons, even the harshest winters, were backdrops to all the laughs and thrills and lessons of my youth.

Generations past, my ancestors from Italy and Germany somehow found their way to this bustling little city, probably by train from the Big Apple. My grandfather started a business that still operates today, manufacturing menu covers used by restaurants far and wide. He and my grandmother raised their children in one of your cozy neighborhoods, and many years later I was born.

Because of my grandfather’s line of work, I learned early on that there’s a little bit of Rochester in every corner of the world. Whether it’s a Kodak camera, or a Wegmans shopping bag, or a Xerox printing machine, or a paycheck from Paychex, or one of your well-informed displaced natives singing your praises in some far-off place…you are everywhere.

I’m a senior in college right now, and I want to see and experience the world. I may become a boomerang that comes back one day, after I’ve had a taste of the harsh realities of life outside the 585. But I take comfort in knowing that the Rochester diaspora means home is all over the place. I just have to make sure I move somewhere with a Wegmans.  (But I’m young and restless so I’ll probably be back. Just be patient.)

With all my love and gratitude,


The Coal Tower in Schoen Place on a Snowy Day

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Love Note #20: She's Perfectly Imperfect

         Name: Bill Schwappacher
         I am: Creative Director/ Interactive Developer
         Years in Rochester: 9
         Current home: Rochester (Upper Monroe)
You know you’re in love when it is her flaws that turn you on the most.
I was dating the perfect American city when true love hit me. She was my college sweetheart and the poster girl for what most college boys crave. A sporty, young, mid-western beauty that loved cars and knew how to have a good time on Saturday night. Best of all she was easy. I could buy and do whatever I wanted and always knew there was any number of jobs to support my consumptive habits. 
But my heart left her when I was reacquainted with a childhood friend in upstate New York. 
It had been many years since I spent much time walking her streets. As I did, fond youthful memories mixed with the sad realization that the years I spent away from her were a bit unkind. Abandonment, infighting and insular thinking had left her greyed, unsure and rudderless. Yet, as we spent time reacquainting ourselves, I discovered a woman that had endured and was still full of alluring surprises. Her lilacs and magnolias filled my senses. Her unique and deep history seduced me. Her diverse and majestic neighborhoods invited me in. And her kind and generous people made me want to spend every day and night with her. 
When I told those close to me that I was madly in love and wanted to run away with her, I got reactions of bewilderment and pity. “But she is so cold,” they’d say. “She’s plagued by brownfields, mired in poverty and doesn’t even have a Crate and Barrel.” 
“Exactly,” I’d reply, “she is perfectly imperfect and that is what I love most.” Perfection is no fun. There is no challenge or adventure in clean homogeneity. To me, love is about rolling up your sleeves, investing yourself in someone and helping them grow. The fun part is growing with them and taking pleasure in celebrating their idiosyncrasies. 
When we came back together we were both deeply flawed and directionless. In the nine years since, we have done a lot with and for each other. We have and continue to support, tear down, reassure, play with and even fight one another. I’d like to think we are both a little better for it. 
I’m crazy in love with you Rochester, scars and all. You are without a doubt the woman worth fighting for.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Love Note #19: I'll Be Back

Name: Danielle Dagilis
I Am: English teacher, yogi, world traveler, Massachusetts native
Years in Rochester: Years? None. I spent 5 days there in July 2013.
Current Home: Los Angeles

Dear Rochester,

I really wasn't looking forward to meeting you. My childhood best friend went on and on about you over the years, but I took it with quite a few grains of salt. I figured she had to convince herself you were hot, since she was stuck with you. Imagine my surprise when I pretty much instantly feel in love with you last summer. From riding bikes to an outdoor concert by the river, to an amazing gym, to one of the best meals I've ever eaten at Good Luck, to a yoga class around the corner, I was like, "Wait, where am I?!?!?" The best part was when a mounted policeman strolled down the block at dusk, and kids and parents all rushed out to say hi to and take pictures with Comet the horse. Seriously?!? This happens? I love you, you hot little secret, Rochester! And I miss you all the time. Knowing you are the kind of girl who will forgive my misjudgment, I feel like you'll welcome me back next time, despite my little confession.


Comet the Horse Visiting the Neighborhood 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Love Note #18: When I Come Home, I Am Filled With Warmth For This Region

Name: Joy Underhill
I Am: Business Writer
Years in Rochester: 56 years
Current Home: Farmington, NY

Dear Rochester,

You have been my home for almost my entire life, which is saying something. I have fended off complaints about weather, smugness, racial divisiveness, isolation, and a dead downtown for decades, and I’m still fighting. Because I know a little secret that many others know – that Rochester is a wonderful place to live, thrive, and raise a family.

Where else can you afford to buy a house with a decent yard, attend dozens of cultural events of the highest quality, enjoy waterfronts in every direction, and still be within a 6-hour drive of major East Coast cities? Right here.

I love to travel, but when I come home, I am filled with warmth for this region. Yes, life is slower, but that’s a good thing. I remember one time when I’d been to Long Island visiting my son, navigating the hazards of the Long Island Expressway and searching for parking at a mall for a half hour (not during Christmas). Pack so many people together and they’re bound to get testy. But on the way home, I stopped nearby for lunch, and it was like a breath of fresh air. The people smiled easily, were kinder, and simply enjoyed life more. 

To be more specific, here’s a short list of why I love Rochester:
  • Historic brick buildings coupled with outstanding architecture, all reflected in water
  • A thriving agricultural community that provides great access to fresh foods
  • Top notch cultural and musical events – with NO traffic
  • Heavy snowfalls that soften and muffle the landscape – and invite warm nights in front of the fire
  • A huge variety of ethnic and specialty foods, prepared by first-generation immigrants
  • Broad educational opportunities at several fine universities
  • Some of the best healthcare anywhere

Of course, like any city, Rochester has its problems. But it’s gotten a bad rap, especially about the weather. Our “terrible weather” keeps us free of droughts, mudslides, wildfires, sandstorms, and tidal flooding – and returns to us maple syrup, lilacs, apples, grapes, and summer days that the snowbirds return for. I choose to measure my years by our glorious seasons, our proud history, and our determination to make Rochester an even better place to live for our children.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love Note #17: Like Her Seasons, She is Fierce and Gentle

Name: Aaron Gallant
I am: President of the Monroe County Young Democrats and aide to Assemblyman Harry Bronson
Years in Rochester: 25, with a stint away to attend college at George Washington University
Current Home: Monroe Village

My Dearest Rochester,

As I write these words, I'm peering out my window onto your streets on a crystal clear February day.  Although the temperature is ice cold, the blazing white sun is melting the top layer of snow as dripping icicles gleam from the rooftops.  I remember all the beautiful times we've shared.  

Your seasons are what I love most of all.  I love your summers on top of Cobbs Hill with my friends from near and far away.  I love your autumns as I run through piles of leaves in the drizzling rain.  I love your springs as the warmth returns to our own little corner of the world.  And I love your winters -- at times both fierce and gentle on days like today.

I adore your neighborhoods, with many still to explore.  They reek of history, both good times and bad.  For centuries, they have been a cradle for those seeking justice and equality.  Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass are revered around the world, but with you, they were at home.

We've had our struggles, but I know that you will persevere.  Our neighbors rely on you just as you rely on them.  So let us redeem our spirits, and look forward to the good days that are still to come.

Aaron Gallant

Cobbs Hill Reservoir during a December run

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Notes #16: Rochester, I Love You to Pizzas

         Name: Alex Fiorille
         I am: 21 years old, student at Bates College
         Years in Rochester: 10 (used to live in Pittsburgh)
         Current Home: Lewiston, ME

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?”


“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
The beloved Pontillo's Slice