Today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) post is on “My Hometown.” I’m an upstate New York gal and while I spent my school years growing up outside of Syracuse, I’ve spent my entire adult life in Rochester. I decided to focus on the latter for this post. Recently, a new local blog was started called Rochester Love Notes (@RocLoveNotes on Twitter). It’s a great concept and the basic requirement for a submission is roughly 600 words describing what you love about Rochester. Since I couldn’t bear the thought of hindering my creative juices with a word count and my letter results from a love affair with Rochester that has been rather unrequited, I’ll be giving you my rendition here. Fellow literature geeks should appreciate the references.
Dear Mr. Rochester,
I can’t say that I never thought we’d reach this point. Alas, I think the moment is upon us.
I remember when we first met. I was just a child, but when visiting my grandmother, I recall the sense of dangerous attraction I felt overlooking High Falls from the revolving top of the First Federal Building in the early 1980s. We would not meet again until I was 16 and in search of colleges. In 1994 I arrived and began to make a life with you. Yes, Mr. Rochester, we’ve actually been together for nearly twenty years.
In my mid-twenties, my father warned me about your arrogance and your beautiful but damned existence. “I don’t know who these Rochester people think they are,” he said, forgetting he had married my born-Rochesterian mother. True to his Syracuse roots, I labeled him as resentful of the place that I thought could offer me more both culturally and economically.
You seduced me with your sophisticated and educated charm, Mr. Rochester. I fell hard for your proximity to water, your museums, and rich history. The trappings of high-end retailers, fine dining, country clubs with beautifully maintained golf courses, fundraisers, and personalities bigger than their britches certainly have provided a lot of social entertainment. There have been nights we’ve happily celebrated successes together and nights where you’ve managed to make a drunken fool of me. You’ve even dressed up as a woman for me on several occasions, but that was all in good fun.
I think that sometimes you forget that I’ve also seen your darker side, that flawed side of you that causes people to turn off the news at night. I worked with the last of your Holocaust survivors drawing pictures of German soldiers. I walked door to door in neighborhoods ridden with poverty, filing missing person reports on your children. I’ve found razor blades lodged in my windshield wipers in said neighborhoods where, at the time, home tutors were being raped. I’ve experienced “good-old-boy,” top-heavy, glass-ceiling management. I’ve seen your elders fall short of funds in senior housing communities only to be sent somewhere where medicaid payment is accepted but laden with state deficiencies and questionable care. I’ve had five car accidents here. I’ve been stalked, stolen from, yelled at, harassed, snowed in, and ice-stormed with no power for five days. Truth be told, I wouldn’t change any of it because you have made me stronger. In fact, you have made me who I am.
Despite all of the ties that bind us together, lately I’ve noticed we seem to be drifting apart. I suppose I can’t blame you entirely. We’ve had our share of indiscretions. There was that time in 2003 when I contemplated leaving you for Arizona. Then again in 2006 when the vapid narcissism of southern California called my name. Neither could offer me the commitment I wanted and so I stayed out of loyalty and sadly, fear of the unknown. I started to feed the urge to leave you by traveling halfway around the world and back, but ultimately you couldn’t fulfill the financial resources it would take for me to continue that hobby. Over the past few years I traveled less and tried to make a life worth living here. I became more involved in volunteerism and community service at organizations that I believe make a difference in your well-being but ultimately, I’m just not sure it’s enough. I suppose I could do even more for you. I could sport a myriad of apparel or accessories proclaiming my love and adoration for you. But you and I both know I’ve never been one for public displays of affection; and I’m certainly not into something previously enjoyed by one of your other women.
I’ve questioned your fidelity because you’ve been reckless with me, Mr. Rochester. You’ve left me jobless three times now, and broken-hearted more times than I care to recall. Thankfully, I’m resilient enough to wind up on both feet and better off each time, but I’m forced to wonder when my luck will run out. We’re both aware of my intelligence and talents; and I’m certainly more Cathertine Linton vs. plain Jane Eyre in the looks department. And yet, sometimes you look right through me as if I don’t exist. At 37 years old I’m without a husband, children, or a career that fulfills me. I’ve given you the best damn years of my life, Rochester. Why must you continue to deny me of the very basic needs that could keep me here forever?
I implore you to give me a reason to stay, Rochester. Now please forgive me as I throw your own words back in your face while I question the fate of our future together and know that this is not about hating you or falling out of love. It’s simply knowing when it’s time to let go: “Since happiness is irrevocably denied me, I have a right to get pleasure out of life: and I will get it, cost what it may.”
(Quote from Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë)