beka stays in rochester : the list

My bible has become a paperwork filing system. I blame it on the free space in the bulletins for note taking (come on, I’m just following instructions!). Usually my notes pertain to the actual subject matter of the sermon, but occasionally I veer from the straight and narrow and start jotting down groceries and to-do’s and then find the lists 8 months later when my bible is so stuffed full of paper that it threatens to outweigh the Encyclopedia Britannica. Which makes cleaning it out kind of fun because I enjoy the trip down memory lane, especially when I found a goldmine like I did this weekend.

Laying silently in hiding in between Wegmans receipts and packing lists was a piece of paper torn from a notebook. I don’t think I wrote the note in church, but somehow it ended up in my bible and I’d forgotten all about it. It was from May 2010 when I first started thinking about where I wanted to go after Admissions. The title? (Because I’m that much of a freak…I title notes to myself…)

“Things I Would Love in a Future City”

And they were, in no apparent order:

  1. Ability to walk/bike/public transportation
  2. Temperate seasons
  3. Good food with lots of variety
  4. An artistic side
  5. Lots of natural beauty
  6. A good church
  7. A meaningful job
  8. Year-round produce
  9. Open air markets
  10. A great supermarket
  11. Friendly people
  12. Doable distance from home

(Let’s just sidestep the fact that a quarter of these revolve around food, and that I wanted a “good” church, but a “great” supermarket. I should be ashamed.)

I remembered the locations I had in mind when I made that list: North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, maybe even Wisconsin or Colorado or California. Never (NEVER) did I think of Rochester when making that list. It wasn’t even a consideration.

And yet, here I reside in Rochester for the indefinite future. What could possibly be seen as a boring alternative to the other places I was dreaming of is in reality the fulfillment of everything I was hoping for in a future city:

I recently biked to a friend’s house in the city and then biked to CVS on the way home. I routinely walk around the neighborhood and to all of my favorite restaurants. (1)

Far be it from me to label Rochester’s seasons as “temperate,” but I’m truly a Northern girl at heart. I love the cooler seasons most: fall will always be my favorite with winter’s white canvas as a very close second. I wouldn’t mind if spring would hurry up and get here closer to March than May, but at least I live in a place with defined seasons. I love that. (2)

There’s a Word document on my computer with over 30 restaurants I want to try…and that’s just in the city, not even counting other places I’d like to visit in surrounding cities. Within a few blocks I have access to Mediterranean and Mexican, pizza and pasta, subs and sushi, fresh-baked bread and fresh-brewed coffee. I literally want for nothing as it pertains to the availability of favorable cuisine. (3)

I practically live right next to the Genesee Center for the Arts, where I hope to take lots of classes someday. I’m also within a mile of the George Eastman House, one of the most reputable photography museums in the world. There’s also a culture of creativity in the city, with musicians and photographers and artists of all kinds collaborating on local events, both scheduled and impromptu. (4)

A few weeks ago I ran up to the Cobb’s Hill Reservoir. I was so struck by how beautiful the loop was, especially the view of the city from so high up, and by how close such a wonderful sight was from my apartment – less than one mile. I’m also daily delighted by the tree-lined streets of my neighborhood, the Canal path that lies right outside of the gym I go to, the pretty shift from summer to fall that is taking place right outside of my window. And that’s just in the immediate area, it’s not even taking into account all of the other nearby wonders, most of which I haven’t even begun to explore. (5)

I’ve said multiple times that if there were ever a church that would decide my geographic location, it would be Northgate. I’ve never loved a church so much! I’ve been going since I started working in Admissions, but I’ve never gotten involved because my feet were always on the edge of leaving, always waiting for the opportunity to bolt. Now that I’m here to stay I can’t wait to get involved and actually be part of the church community, something I’ve never really done in earnest before. (6)

When I wrote down that I wanted a meaningful job, I never would have imagined I’d be doing what I’m doing right now. I was thinking more along the lines of Guidance Counselor or Magazine Contributor or Photographer. Jobs with capital letters. I’d still love to do those things, and more, but I couldn’t be happier with my current mix of jobs. I love working at the juice bar at a yoga studio; it combines my love for health and nutrition and adds in the bonus of amazing coworkers. And I love, love, love nannying. I adore spending time with the kids (we’ll talk about this more soon in a future post) and devoting “working” hours to shaping little lives is an investment that matters to me. And of course, working as a photographer’s assistant on the weekends is a fantastic learning experience. As far as meaningful employment goes, I’ve been blessed with much more than I originally hoped for. (7)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love food, but I especially love fresh, local food. I do wish that we had more of a winter selection of local produce, but I also enjoy knowing that food around here has concrete seasons. It makes savoring every last nectarine that much more special. It makes me anticipate local apple cider and berries and squash. Sure, I could get all of those things on a regular basis from any supermarket, but waiting until they are in season is truly a gift. Everything tastes better and is appreciated more. (8)

The Rochester Public Market was voted America’s Favorite Farmer’s Market in 2010. It’s an impressive array of local EVERYTHING – produce, flowers, pasta, meat, eggs, honey, crafts, and more. And if that weren’t enough, there are so many smaller markets throughout the week, including two within a mile of my apartment and two more that I happily travel a few extra miles to attend. (9)

I live 3 miles away from the Pittsford Wegmans. Enough said. (10)

Friendly people are occasionally lacking in the North. We can blame it on the long, harsh winters, perhaps. Maybe all of the Vitamin D makes people in the South more cheery. But within my own circle? I have more wonderful friends than I can count. I’d be heartsick to leave any of them behind. It’s a rare blessing to have so many people you love be so near. (11)

I-90 and I are BFF’s. We’ve traversed more miles together than I’d like to count; the number is literally in the high thousands when considering about a dozen 400 mile round-trip excursions every year for the past 7 years. And while the sections of construction never fail and the radio stations never improve, the distance from home is just about perfect. I’m able to go home easily whenever I need/want to, and vice versa. As much as I’ve talked about moving out of state, I really don’t think I’d like being much further away than I am right now. For starters, my mom says too many funny things and I wouldn’t want to miss out on that. And my dad and I have too much fun on the water and on the road to be too far away for those things to happen. And there are still people growing up that I want to be nearby to see. With the move to the city, I’m even closer to home, so now it only takes a solid 3.5 hours on a long day to get from one place to the other. I love being able to go back and forth. (12)

So, to review, I got everything that I wanted in a future city, and so much more! On my original list I forgot to include a fantastic library system, ample opportunities for serving the community, trails/pathways for running and biking, and entertainment options, but Rochester has surprised me with all of those as well, along with an ever-increasing number of additional items.

We’ve talked about this before, the ability of God to do immeasurably more than anything we could ask for or imagine, but it’s resoundingly true in this case. I’m not just happy in Rochester. I’m content, abundantly blessed, and finally at peace with staying somewhere, which is basically a miracle. It makes me all misty-eyed, to be honest. To think that I’ve been given so much, and I almost dismissed it all just because I’m a compulsive bolter? It makes me so thankful for a sovereign God who knows me better than I know myself; for a faithful father who will put me exactly where I need to be no matter how much I kick and scream.

I love Rochester.

(Unlikely, unforeseen and undeserved.)