is not a word that I use. It is not a word that I like because it connotes being taken over by something – this is, after all, what happens when we are sick. It is one thing to miss my family, which is the case every single day, but this is an emotion like love. It’s beautiful to notice because it means they matter to me. Missing my family is a deep sensation, one that I feel through my whole body, but one that comes in waves.
However, it seems that to be homesick is beyond what I feel. It is what I am, and it is consuming.
I settled on this word because I could not otherwise describe how I felt after a perfectly normal, pleasantly busy day over the weekend. Out of nowhere came the sense that a physical space was suddenly empty, as though it had been full of energy mere minutes before and something was now gone. In that empty space came the feeling that anything I tried to do, and I tried a number of things, had a missing piece that had not previously been missing.
Writing these words brings to mind when I was a child and I used to have a hard time during our one-night sleepover at camp. By the second or third year, we figured out that as long as I “didn’t plan to stay” and my dad had to bring my bag or pillow, I would be alright. I just needed a hug. When I was little, my dad could put my whole world back together when it seemed to fall apart.
Both age and life experience assure me that my world has not fallen apart. Quite the contrary, in fact. Rather, it seems like the larger world has moved on while my world is floating aimlessly, looking for somewhere to land. There is a fist over my heart and it is keeping me awake at night, which makes it difficult to focus during the day. I am exhausted when I get home and time ticks by more slowly than usual. Homesick. What else might I call it?
And just like being physically ill, this will pass. It will settle. Have some tea, take some time, and life in general will move on. Homesickness will quiet into its usual state, that of missing, and the world will fit itself back together.
Until then, let this be a visceral, bodily reminder that the people in my world are what make it go round.
Home is people, not places. Home is joy and laughter and learning and love. In our homes we hold and care for one another, explore the world hand in hand, lift each other up. We can cry together because it means we can grow. We want to understand those around us and we work together to do whatever it is, whatever it takes.
When we’ve made a home, things matter. We, the human beings, matter. You, me, them, all of us, a family.
Home is an idea more than a physical environment. Home is together in security and in friendship. Friends are not born, they are made, and in homes we make choices. We can walk side by side, we can chase one another with glee. We can play. Look at the sunset, look at the trees. Feel the sand, the grass. What a world we can choose to build. What homes we can make.
Homes with an s.
And so they are, by necessity, but also because we dare. Because our hearts and minds grow larger as we live, and our connections to people near and far grow with time. When we are willing to live, to love, to be with others, we find homes. And in living, loving, being we share. We share hopes, dreams, anger, despair. For we are, all of us, mere travellers on this earth.
The idea of home is intrinsically tied with nature. Throughout history, we have navigated by stars, moss on trees, rock formations, sunlight, shadows, wind. Across time and space, people gather around the hearth. We find warmth and conversation around the fire, connection with others, connection with food. Where there is water, there are animals. With animals come people. People plant crops. Shelters are built. More people come. We create communities and in those communities, we make homes.
When all else fails us, the world itself is left.
Yet sometimes, we grow weary. We lose our way. We forget the signs or we search and search and can’t find them. And so we wander, wander in ceaseless patterns that we only recognize once we lie down to rest our minds. We stretch out our hands, pleading, but there’s no one around who sees us.
Yes, sometimes we work and work and are lost. I am searching but I can’t find you. Listening but I can’t hear you.
Breathe. And then.
In the morning, the fog clears. The mist lifts from the endless road, the path, the journey, the adventure. And isn’t it just?
Rochester, New York is a lovely place and I’m not just saying that because I grew up here. It feels like a community and the people of Rochester are very proudly Rochesterian. There’s even a wiki by the people, for the people! As I suspect is true of most places, I lived in a very different Rochester as an adult than the one in which I grew up. I have very fond memories and warm feelings of both and if my dreams were different, this would be a satisfying place to remain.
At any rate, Rochester is my summer home and it really is a good one. What have we been up to? Read on!
The Rochester International Jazz Festival is an annual event that began in 2002. My dad really loves jazz and I’ve been going to Jazz Fest possibly for as long as it has been around. I have distinct memories of a particular night when I was in grade 10, but that definitely wasn’t my first experience. My photos don’t capture the pulse and atmosphere or the sounds, rhythms, and cheers that fill the streets but hopefully you’ll get a sense of why it’s something we look forward to every year.
Most of the shows aren’t free but I really enjoy the experience of those that are. And there are at least four free shows per day so there’s no good excuse not to go! It’s a really good feeling to share moments of joy with others, strangers or not, and I find a lot more of that during street performances than the indoor shows. Indoor shows are smaller, though, and the intimacy of that setting is a treat.
The people-watching at Jazz Fest is always a highlight in itself and the food trucks serve just about anything. It’s also a great way to run into people I haven’t seen in a while and immediately gives us something to talk about. Jazz Fest is one of the events that makes Rochester look and feel like a destination, which we always appreciate. It’s the same week of June every year, rain or shine. I was sorry to miss it last year and I’m really glad to be back.
I’ve waxed poetic about the Rochester Public Market before and I was tempted to leave my camera at home this time because having free hands makes it easier to shop. But it really is a lot of fun to take pictures and I wasn’t doing a full order like I used to so the camera came along!
The Public Market has been in its current location since 1905. It’s the most diverse place anywhere in the city, in my experience, and a remarkable display of how much work it takes to feed people.
The market also sells dry goods, locally produced alcohol, artisanal products, and various flea market goods like clothes and kitchen supplies. And, apparently, flags!
There are also restaurant staples, the most popular of which is Juan and Maria’s. That was the first place I ever had an empanada. The Market underwent a renovation of the indoor section in the last couple years and there are a few additional restaurant stalls in addition to the meat and cheese sellers who operate there. And there are also a few food trucks!
In addition to everything else, the market sells herbs and flowers. So everything, really. When I was living in Rochester it wasn’t uncommon for me to get everything I needed for the week early Saturday morning at the Market. I loved it every time and it’s something I really miss living away.
There’s a pretty good street art scene in the area, too, mostly due to Wall\Therapy, another fantastic community project that aims to improve life in a city that can be very harsh. There is a lot of work to be done here.
The Market is open year-round Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The greatest number of vendors and widest variety of people come on Saturdays and it’s really good fun, even in the rain.
Rochester is located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, the part of the state known for its wine production. Cayuga, Keuka, and Seneca Lakes are all famous (really!) for their wine trails. I’ve been to wineries on Cayuga and Seneca multiple times and have been drinking Finger Lakes wine since, well, before I was legally old enough to do so.
The wineries here are better known for their whites than reds because of the climate but there are some vineyards that produce excellent reds. The best part of wine tasting is that you get to do just that – taste! And spend time in pretty places with friendly people. That’s another best part.
Many of the wineries are pet friendly and the staff tend to be very knowledgeable and also friendly! Some have restaurants on site while others have meats and cheeses and various accoutrements that you can purchase to enjoy along with your wine. And if you decide to buy a bottle (or ten) there are lots of options.
In Conclusion . . .
. . . there’s a lot to love about Rochester in the summer and I’m really glad to be here. Let me know if you make it out this way! I’d love to show you around.
Photos, travels, musings, and ideas on education by someone trying to make the world a better and more peaceful place