I grew up in Houston, a 6 year city. The first year is discovering what the best of daily living has to offer: meeting the neighborhoods of Montrose and River Oaks, welcoming tastes of intellectuals, artists and advocates of all ages and starting with a host of dynamic restaurants like Brennan’s, Hugo’s, Rainbow Lodge, Mark’s and Treebeard’s.
Unique coffee shops like Boheme and Agora, The Chocolate Bar, the Dessert Gallery, visiting the Houston Museum of Science and Arts, the radiant Rice University campus with endless lecturers and free exhibits, Rice Village shopping, cyclist loving Critical Mass events, opportunities for running on the Bayou or the Memorial Park Trail, yoga, cultural and holiday events, dancing and concerts at Discovery Green Park, free public theatre at Miller Outdoor Theatre or Broadway brought to Wortham.
The second year in Houston is meeting the city’s flavor, what Houston is known for most: huge sports stadiums, attending Rockets, Texans, Dynamo and Astros games, visiting NASA space center, heading to Galveston Island for sunbathing, seeing the beautiful Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn waterpark and Pleasure Pier, enjoying the bullriding and cheap concerts at the Livestock Show and Rodeo and having a turkey leg, fried Oreos and strawberry topped funnel cake at the fair, shopping and dining at the Galleria and picnicking in front of the Williams Tower across the Waterwall.
The third year is meeting your new friends in the ‘burbs and getting a taste of life outside the city. Each suburb has its own city square or Town Center with shopping, dining and all sorts of activities. It’s time to grab lawn chairs to sit out at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion in the Woodlands and watch your favorite band, have the best sushi in Sugar Land and get to thrifty shopping in the suburb of Katy at Katy Mills Mall. All while hating the heat and traffic, gaining pounds at high speeds.
The last three years are enjoying what’s above plus road trips to Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Corpus Christi within three to five hours or New Orleans and Destin seven to nine hours away. Then, enjoying very affordable and conveniently short plane rides or cruises to anywhere in the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America.
Rochester is a much smaller city. My general impression: Rochester is a 2 and a half year city. After the first year of uprooting myself from Houston, the second year of becoming firmly situated in Upper Monroe and making friends, being “on assignment” for Talker and a recent orienteering event, I will have 6 months left.
My first year seeing the Roc’s offerings were in reverse order. I immediately escaped with transitional anxiety, visiting nearby cities like Toronto, Boston, New York City, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Ithaca.
It wasn’t until year two that I got a mix of Rochester’s suburb life when friends introduced me to activities in Pittsford, Penfield, Webster and the South Wedge and city life by visiting the Memorial Art Gallery, Eastman House, dining and dancing on Alexander Street and East Ave, strolling through Park Ave and hiking activities, food truck fun and my favorite arts events at Rochester Auditorium Theatre, Geva, Kodak Hall, the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s “After Dark” parties, stand up comedy at Boulder’s open mic nights and spoken word poetry.
Through the magazine, I have been to events for special causes dear to me like breast cancer support through Gilda’s auction, animal adoption support by Rochester Academy of Music and Arts, supporting independent businesses like Peppermint for fashion, culture through attending the Greek festival. Still, I fall short in covering a sufficient number of cultural events according to my relentless editor pushing for more writing contributions.
So, for both pleasure and for Talker, I recently had an orienteering adventure organized by Rochester Orienteering. Orienteering is a family of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, and normally moving at speed.
Laurie Hunt, Roc Orienteering President explains the love for orienteering:
At the most basic level, I think the simplicity of the sport is appealing…map, compass, woods…that’s all you need. No special equipment required, no complicated rules. It’s a sport you can do throughout your whole life… You’ll also see competitive athletes and people in their 70’s and 80’s out on the trail. Each meet features a number of courses so that people of all levels of ability can participate. It’s also called the “thinking sport”. Sometimes participants who do not have physical prowess can do better than the runners because they use their navigational skills more adeptly.
Still after orienteering, my editor says I have 6 months left to see the city. Of course, I know he wants more writing! Whether it’s through orienteering or other methods of getting around, it’s exciting to see more of what Rochester has to offer, possibly pick up ingredients to cook a Persian meal at the Public Market, see the Jazz Festival when my family from Houston comes to visit this week, finally watch my editor get hit in the face as he umpires at his softball game, and braving to get on stage at Boulder coffee on Alexander to perform a recently written comedy sketch,“This Iranian-American Life.” I look forward to the rest of my time here in Flower City!
ALSO ON AND BY SHADI