Hometown Adventures

Last weekend, I went back to Western New York, to Rochester and to my hometown of Batavia, a small town halfway between Buffalo and Rochester.

It’s been just about 6 months since my last visit, which was before Christmas. Visiting in the late spring, early fall, or anytime during the summer is best because everything is green and there’s no chance of a blizzard blowing through. Although, it didn’t snow at all during our last visit and was pretty mild for late December upstate.

However, it apparently hasn’t rained up there very much seeing as there was a lot more brown than green. It was quite disappointing. I remember in my freshman year at GCC (Genesee Community College) my English 101 teacher told us how she moved from California for her job at the college. She had visited and interviewed in May, fell in love with the greenery, and took the job; I wonder how she felt once it started to snow and never stopped haha

Anyways, this weekend was for celebrating our friends, Matt and Laura, at their wedding. They are both college friends from Geneseo: Matt was Tom’s roommate when I met Tom (in my senior year), and Laura and Matt started dating around the time that I was student teaching (fall semester after my senior year ended).

Tom was one of the groomsmen so he went up a day before I did to get his tux fitted and do all the male celebrating (I was told laser tag was involved and I got super jealous). I joined him the day before the wedding which was the same day that my friend Courtney came to Rochester and was in the same hotel as us (she was singing in the wedding)! Tom, Matt, and Courtney were all friends before I met Tom, but Courtney and I became insta-friends. Like, seriously, it happened so fast, we just got along so incredibly well.

Friday evening, we headed to the rehearsal dinner at a comedy club associated with Sticky Lips BBQ. It was so nice hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones – we sat with the rest of the groomsmen who turned out to be so cool!

Post-dinner, we headed to downtown Rochester to check out the Jazz Festival with the rest of the guys. None of us are jazz-enthusiasts, but it was something to do at 7 pm on a Friday night the day before a wedding. It turned out to be a really good time – we saw Fitz and the Tantrums whom I still don’t know but apparently they’ve been on the radio. I didn’t take any pictures at Jazz Fest as we did not have a great view, but I did take two on the way to the festival…and of course they’re terribly blurry! Just squint a lot and maybe they won’t look so bad…

Jazzfest

After the concert, we lucked out so hard at the parking garage. We got back to the garage at 10:20 but I guess it closes at 10, so all of the gates were locked. We were able to sneak under one of the main gates, since there was a car at the entrance, and ran to our cars. All of a sudden, a woman zips around the corner in her car and asks us how we plan to get out seeing as the gates are closed. She let us out [for free!] but we were to “not expect this again”. Don’t worry, we won’t!

On Saturday, while all the guys met up for breakfast at Denny’s, Courtney and I went back downtown to visit our other college friend, Vicky, at the coffee shop she manages. She also does Crossfit, so you probably don’t want to mess with her.

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She made us both lattes – Courtney got the Lavender Cardamom Latte (left) and I got the Mocha Latte with cinnamon (right). They were so delicious. And that presentation – latte artiste in the house!

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I tried to get some artistic photos through the espresso machine, but it didn’t work the way I wanted…

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Before long, it was time to go back to the hotel to get our faces on/hair did/threads on for the wedding so we took a group photo and were on our way.

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I did Courtney’s makeup before she had to get to the venue to practice the song she was singing – Be Thou My Vision, love that song! I then did my hair and makeup, got dressed, and headed out to the wedding. The drive there was beautiful and the lack of rain wasn’t as noticeable in the fields along the back roads to Caledonia.

When I got to the venue (the Jerris Wadsworth Barn), I was internally freaking out that I had the wrong place because I didn’t recognize anyone. I called Courtney and [thank goodness!] found her inside the barn. We sat next to each other for the ceremony and reception.

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The ceremony was beautiful albeit hot as heck. It was almost 90 degrees and we were in direct sunlight, so I was sweating in all the places. Like, ALL the places. Courtney sang beautifully, the pastor’s message was great to hear, and the bride and groom were both obviously excited. Matt enthusiastically said, “I do” when the vows part came. He was clearly pumped haha

We got this picture of the four of us, a similar picture that we took at my wedding with the original amigos [minus Nate].

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I’m ashamed to say I have no pictures of the bride and groom together. Then again, they’ll have plenty of much better quality pictures that no one will notice my lack thereof! I mean, I do have this one from when they were cutting the cake; I promise that Laura is behind Matt.

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We played yard games during the reception that Tom was SUPER into. I swear, he saves all of his energy to play frisbee in 90 degree heat in a suit. He then complained of how sore he was for the rest of the evening. That still didn’t stop him from continuing to throw the frisbee around. Haha notice Kyle and [non-groom] Matt behind him acting chill while Tom is fiercely trying to win.

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We ate food, danced a ton, and had s’mores at the campfire when it got dark. Tom and [groom] Matt had a little buddy cuddle, just like old times.

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We ended the night lining up along a walkway holding sparklers for Matt and Laura to walk through. I can’t wait to see their pictures!

Sunday was the day of goodbyes. Courtney had to head back home to Buffalo really early, so our goodbyes were actually said before we went to sleep. We saw Matt and Laura at breakfast in our hotel so we got to say bon voyage to them as they are honeymooning in Italy and were leaving later that evening. Then I had to say goodbye to Tom at the airport since I was staying for a couple more days and he headed back to the city.

I’m so glad I stayed. I got to see my mom, my Godmother, Josie, who has been more like a grandmother my entire life, and a bunch of high school friends (not all pictured as we didn’t all get photos) over the next 48 hours. I brought my mom Chinese food for lunch one of the days and Josie was in the best shape she’s been in quite awhile – it honestly made me so happy.

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PLUS I worked out in the hotel’s “fitness room” [1 treadmill, 1 elliptical, 1 multi-purpose weight machine]. AND I went in the hotel pool. AND I had an ultra huge king-size bed to myself. It was magical.

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Funny story: right after posting this photo on Instagram, my friend Mary texted me laughing that you could see the book I was using to hide my phone in the reflection of my sunglasses. Sure enough it does look like that, but I honestly wasn’t trying to and didn’t notice. I was trying to make sure I didn’t lose my place in my book (could’ve just dog eared and set it down, I know) and that I didn’t drop my phone in or near the pool, so I held everything with both hands. Plus, I was all alone outside so there wasn’t anyone to catch me taking it haha

As is always the case, no matter how much fun it is to get away, coming home feels great. It felt good to see Tom once again, sleep in my own (albeit full-size) bed, and be able to walk everywhere without feeling cooped up.

I had a blast and I can’t wait to go back and see everyone again. Or maybe they’ll come down to the city to visit me!

My Childhood Home

So I went back home a couple weekends ago and, although it’s only been 2 months since I last visited, I was hit with a ton of emotions. I was flooded with so many memories of this house – the familiar sounds of the floorboards creaking, the smell of the hand soap, and sights of my baby pictures hanging on the walls (Tom says they look like I had a mullet. It’s called a half up-do with bangs, okay?).Bathtub

I even went through some of our old pictures from when I was a youngin’ that are stored in boxes upstairs. I sifted through pictures of me with my parents, my friends, and relatives during birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, and other random times. There are tons of silly pictures; this one didn’t seem out of the ordinary at first. I mean, it’s just me learning to read and write with my Dad. Ha, nice 40, Dad. Anyways, looking through these, I started getting a little anxious.Holly and Dad 2

You see, my mom has been in a nursing home for almost 3 years now. She was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis back when I was 9 years old, and it’s definitely progressed over the last 15 years. She is not considered a “resident” because she has not fully signed the remainder of her life (she’s only 60) and her possessions over to them. But I think it might happen soon.

We’ve talked about it here and there, trying to decide what to do and when to do it; most of the hesitation concerns her losing her independence, something she has prided herself on for as long as I can remember. It is also so that when I come home to visit and such, I have my own house to stay in.Mom's helper

Even though I have had a love-hate relationship with this house, it will still feel as though I’ve lost something or someone dear to me. Not loss in the sense that it’s a possession and I have to give it up, it’s more from the memories I have of being there. Sleepovers with friends; cooking with my mom; playing in the street as a kid with the boom box playing Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys for the whole street to hear (how did my neighbors not hate us as kids?).

Then there are the many complaints I had of it growing up. My basement has always been unfinished and I have never been in our attic because it’s more of a crawl space, so there wasn’t a cool lair to hang out in like some of my friends had. I will even miss the backyard, as minuscule as it is; it served its purpose when there was over a foot of snow and school was canceled.

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The tough times pull at my heart as well – my room that became my solace whenever I was upset or wanted to be alone to read or play video games, the platform at the bottom of the stairs where I found my mom lying after she fell (that was the last time she ever tried going upstairs), and the nights spent alone sitting in the kitchen while she was in the nursing home and I was not working either of my two jobs.

I didn’t realize just how difficult this would be; for the past couple years, since selling the house became an actual possibility, I thought it would be exciting and a good idea to downsize and clean house of all these things that we don’t need. But now I am realizing that selling the house is the ultimate implication that mom has lost her independence. And that I am a grown up and need to make my own grown up life and home. And that’s devastating and scary as hell.

I mean she put so much work into keeping this house running even on her single-parent salary that eventually became monthly disability checks. And the nursing home will take every last cent of what she gets for the house. Not only that, but thinking about what to do with all of my and her belongings is super stressful. But let’s not go there; that’s a whole other can of worms.Jack for present

Even though it may be another couple months or a year until the house is on the market, it’s unnerving thinking that this huge part of my life will be gone. And it will become someone else’s; maybe another kid will move in and grow up in my house and make their own memories like I did. Someone else’s birthday will be celebrated there every year. Maybe they’ll repaint my old room and closet like I did when I became a teenager. They’ll make it their own and it will change as they grow up.

Or maybe an older couple will move in and spend the remainder of their lives just sitting on the front porch, enjoying the breeze. Another family will be able to enjoy the beautiful tree in the front yard that blooms in the spring (although it seems to be gone within a couple days because it always ends up raining and then all the petals litter the ground).Before and after

Who knows? Either way, I know I have to let go and move on – I mean, I’m an adult right? I need to get on with life, not just live in the has-been moments. Although it is fun and comforting to reminisce sometimes, I can’t let myself grieve for the past. So here’s to looking forward to the future – moving on from this chapter, creating my own home with new memories, and enjoying every step of the way.