Last week I hit the local playground with my favorite threenager for a preschool playdate. While the little ones were busy getting messy, a fellow mom and I got to talking and it came up that I’m originally from Buffalo, New York. The mom mentioned she had recently attended a wedding where the groom was from Buffalo and that there was something special about those “Buffalo people,” specifically their love of Buffalo itself.

I am so proud of where I’m from and at least once or twice a week a Buffalo reference is made in our home or to others in our community. It’s safe to say that Buffalonians are a proud people.

Tonight I’m writing from one of my favorite places, Spot Coffee. A local chain, I’m a big fan of the Elmwood location because it’s where I used to go to feel cool even when I wasn’t. And while I still don’t think I’m cool, I’m at least much more comfortable and self-aware than ever before.  This place is perfect for writing, observing, and all sorts of delightful distractions.

Whenever I’m home I get to thinking about my snarky 18-year-old self who thought there wasn’t much to see or do in her hometown. I had grown disenchanted with the city and romanticized other locations or destinations.  I had dismissed the place that shaped me and for that I formally apologize. The truth is I didn’t know enough about the many backdrops that comprise the city to label or judge it. Only a few short weeks into my freshman year of college, I knew that Buffalo was unique and I had taken it for granted.

It’s been 18 years since I left home, which means I’ve officially been gone the same amount of years I lived here. And while I returned home for a “I just graduated from grad school and have no money” ten month stint in 2006, it was a placeholder move and I knew it.

Occasionally I beg my husband to move back. And sometimes he indulges me with an eye wink and ear to listen. He likes Buffalo. We were married here, he spent an entire summer here, and loves coming home with me, even in the colder months, to enjoy the sights and people.

But much of our story is rooted in New Jersey, which is where we currently reside. And while I often joke about the congestion, expense, and stereotypes of all things Garden State, I do love it for reasons that require another blog post or fika.

Coming home is bittersweet. It’s where I’m from, but home is also elsewhere now, and I’ve got two Jersey girls to prove it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop talking all things Buffalo and I’ll surely never criticize it again. This place is special. It’s worthy of greater exposure and exploration.

Buffalo, stay golden. Until next time.