Return to Rochester

I only get the urge to write in this when I travel. I wonder why that is.

Today, I am back in Rochester, NY. Home of my alma-mater. This time, instead of being a resident, I am a visitor. Instead of being a student, I am a full-time employed adult. Instead of seeking employment at the career fair, I am recruiting for AMD.

Of course I wanted to come back. There are many things I have greatly, dearly missed about this city. Mostly, it is my friends. As it turns out, though, nearly all but four of them have left this little city to move on with their lives. In another year, two more friends, I expect, will have deserted this place. My connections with Rochester have become lesser and lesser, and it has merely been a year since I have graduated. What will it be like in five years?

It will feel even smaller. Not only did I graduate from RIT, but I feel like I have graduated from Rochester as well. Returning here is like walking back into your elementary school as a high school senior. It looks and feels almost comically small. Suffocatingly small. It is quiet, and quaint, and there is so little to do here at 11pm on a Tuesday that it is actually confusing for me. Barcelona and Austin have shown me what a real city can offer (I’m not even sure Austin is a real city yet) and Rochester just isn’t matching up.

Here, I can’t even find a place to eat past 10pm on a weeknight. I went to Pita Pit, near downtown. My other options: Taco Bell, Denny’s, Jay’s (dysentery) Diner, and Tim Horton’s. Exquisite. You would think, maybe, that a town with two pretty large universities in it would just pack these locations with hungry students. Wrong. Pita Pit had a whopping four patrons in it. So much for late-night cravings. Come on, students, you shouldn’t even be having to study for midterms yet! Get off campus!

The roads of Rochester were just empty. I had them to myself, and driving around felt eerie, and as Derek once said about Burton, “It feels like by just being awake past 10 you are committing a tragic sin”. Yet, during my drive I did see about 6 cop cars. I’m not sure why, especially in the nicer neighborhoods I was driving in. Perhaps they should be back in the ghetto where I used to live, and my roommate’s car stereo was stolen.

Tomorrow is another day, and I hope to meet up with some of the people that are still here. I’ve also been craving a Dibella’s sub for a long time, and to go for a stroll down Park Ave once again. With luck, I’ll be bringing back some nice bottles of NY wines in my somewhat empty suitcase.

It’s a lot of small things that I miss about this place. But even compounded together, I’m beginning to question if those small things really amount to much. This, perhaps, is the most surprising thing I will encounter during this trip.

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2 thoughts on “Return to Rochester

  1. Patrick says:

    I think you ignored the best place to eat late at night in Rochester–what was once City Cafe Diner, and then became Mykonos.

    But as for the bigger problems, the emptiness, the little details–remember that is what keeps Rochester being Rochester, it’s a dying a town, and it has to have that air of being crippled. It’s a slow death, and I think we should appreciate that, for what it is.

  2. tomwillard says:

    They’re planning to tear down Midtown Mall (which has been largely deserted for years) and build a corporate headquarters. Rochester may end up being the only city in America where there is no place to buy anything downtown.

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