September 5th will mark one year for me in Washington state on the outskirts of Seattle. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year, but that doesn’t surprise me. I lived in Baldwinsville for fifteen and the view into the valley from the top of the hill near my house still enchanted me.
So too did the Welcome to Buffalo sign make my heart race after hundreds of returns to my hometown over the twenty six years I spent in New York. And there will always be something beautiful about a snow-covered road and a blasting heater, and the ill-fated winter trek to the 24-hour grocery store for something mundane like candy in the middle of the night.
I imagine the snowy mountains that punctuate the horizon on any clear day and the towering spire of doom that is Mount Rainier will hold my wonder for quite some time. It is both easy and difficult to comprehend that it has indeed been a full year.
Upstate NY has an interesting pull on all its humans. Everyone loves it, but most everyone leaves. We root for our Bills and our Sabres until we die, but we do it from New York City and Richmond and Raleigh and Daytona…and Seattle I guess. Ask anyone for the worst towns and small cities in New York and you’ll be inundated with suggestions. Ask for the best and you’ll get few (or zero as I did on Twitter until I posed the question two more times). I still love it, most all of it; Seneca Falls, Horseheads, Elmira, Baldwinsville, Alex Bay, Potsdam, Massena, and yes Buffalo, but I realize how how grating it is to live there.
I can’t name a single thing I miss that isn’t a human being or related to a human being.
Culturally, to the parts of me that write and are LGBT and poly- and into BDSM, Seattle is a slam-dunk, no contest winner. It’s a nice change to not have to worry about disclosing aspects of my sexuality after remaining largely closeted at two jobs. It’s nice to have this not even on my mind when I play hockey. It’s nice to be near so many people, and a much, much greater diversity…even if I usually don’t want to interact with any of them. It’s nice to be devoid of a state income tax, and days where the temperatures soar into the triple digits. I’ll always miss the snow, but I can drive an hour and get it whenever I want.
It’s also nice to be near a city that is proactive, that has advanced in technology and in human rights. Much of New York, it seems, is still playing catch-up to the rest of the country whether it’s in Buffalo’s antiquated ruins and fleeing population or Rochester and Syracuse’s lack of identity, or the bigoted bumpkinism of many places in between.
I went from a world where I found it difficult to imagine that I’d wind up living anywhere but Buffalo, to one where a city that was completely foreign to me a year ago has made it very easy to think of as home. And more than that, a home that I have yet to fully explore.