Name: Kristen Zory King
I Am: Director of Strategic Initiatives at Writers & Books
Years in Rochester: Two
Current Home: Rochester (NOTA)
Future Home: Las Vegas, Nevada
Today I woke up with you to a rare summer morning - the sky clear and the air cool and calm, a quiet relief from your past few days of bright August heat. Still dazed with sleep, my first thoughts were those of serenity that carried me through the morning until I pulled on my favorite pair of jeans and notice a large, gaping hole along the seam. Immediately my calm was replaced with dismay - the jeans are worn, frayed, and loose, sure, but they're still my favorite "go-to" and this new tear makes them almost unwearable.
After brief consideration, I decided to wear the jeans despite the tear and pulled them on, sliding them past my calves and thighs, resting them comfortably on my hip bones. As I continued through my morning - listening to Beth Adams and Morning Edition on WXXI, checking my email, making coffee, preparing for meetings - a strange thought burrowed in the back of my mind: you, Rochester, are not unlike my worn, favorite jeans.
I moved to Rochester in the Summer of 2012 and it was on a shopping trip to Eastview mall shortly after that I found my now favorite pair of dark blue jeans. It wasn't love at first sight: the jeans were a little too long, bunching around my ankles, far from perfect. I was worried, but I was tired of shopping and so I bought them on a whim and later grew to love them. If you remember Rochester, this is exactly what happened with us - I came to you on a whim, believed in you despite misgivings, and fell more and more in love with you despite your flaws. As I wore and washed the jeans, they began to fray, and, let's be blunt, you too are frayed Rochester, with dismal poverty and educational statistics and an aura of rust on the skyline. You too are dark, worn at the knees, loose in the thighs and hips after a couple years of rough wear and tear. You are a city with ideas a little too big, ideas that don't always fit the exact way you need them, but I love you nonetheless.
I'm leaving you soon, Rochester. An exciting adventure is taking me to the Southwest and as thus, I have less than a month to walk on poetry through the Neighborhood of the Arts, browse local shops on Park Ave, enjoy coffee and cinnamon muffins at the Public Market. In a few short weeks I will trade you in all your many glories - your suffocating humidity, green summer trees, frosty mornings and ice-glittered streets - for a desert landscape I hardly know. I will give up your gray November skies, muddy boots, shallow mornings for 300 days of sunshine and prickly cactus hearts. God, I'm going to miss you. Yes, your winters are long, so long one begins to forget what if feels like to have the smooth heat of the summer sun on bare skin. But how else would we appreciate your beautiful spring lilacs? How else would we throw back our heads and laugh so loudly at your summer festivals? Walk along the canal with such lightness and ease or hear the hollow crack of a solid double hit at a Red Wings game? How else would be relish the magical dark nights of autumn - the smell of a brisk wind, a well-stoked flame, copper leaves and warm cider?
Rochester, you look good on me. Despite still being relatively new I am at home in your community, full of artists, historians, educators, lovers, bygones, devotees, and eccentrics. You're worn, sure, a little ragged and threadbare, but I wouldn't trade you for any other city, any other home. I'll miss you, Rochester. I really will. But I know that when I come back to you - and I will - you'll still fit me as perfectly as my favorite pair of jeans, tears, frays and all.
All my love,