I moved to Buffalo a little over five years ago. In many ways, I still feel like the new kid in town. I use Google Maps a lot. Most local restaurants and shops are still a mystery to me because the chains that were in my hometown are familiar, and familiar is easier. I have lots of acquaintances in Buffalo, especially since becoming a mom and joining at least a dozen mom-related Facebook groups that have meetups from time to time. But most friends I’ve made who started to become real friends, beyond acquaintances, people I would call if I needed something or could hang out with without needing the excuse of our kids playing together as a buffer, have moved away from Buffalo (I say most, not all. Nobody go having your feelings hurt over that sentence!) I’ve complained about all of this a lot over the past five years. Just ask my husband and my mom. But I haven’t really done anything about it. Sure, there are the Facebook groups, but even when I go to mom and baby meetups, I don’t really put myself out there. It’s kind of awkward to say to another mom, “Hey, I need a local BFF. Would you like to apply for the job?”
And then I read this book: This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick. The author moved to a new town and began wondering if she were to act like somebody who loves her town, would she start to love her town? The short answer is yes, but you should read the book. It’s fascinating.
I got my husband, Nathanael, to read the book, too. He has lived here since he was 12, but he doesn’t behave much like someone who really loves their town either. He just lives here. We recently brought our second baby home from the hospital (see my posts on Waiting on Hope for that story), and Nathanael began his whopping six-week paternity leave. We decided to establish some challenges for ourselves to complete individually and as a couple during his time off. One of those is to do something as a family each week that we can only do in Buffalo. I’ve decided to record our outings and progress in learning to love our city here.
We’ll do our best to incorporate some of Warnick’s “Love Your City Challenge Checklist” items that end each chapter into our lives in addition to this little weekly challenge, and I’ll be sure to mention those as I log our progress, too.
People who I consider to be “real Buffalonians” like to use the term “Buffalove” in reference to their affection toward this place (more on this term and what Buffalonians think of it here). Wegmans (a grocery store) sells t-shirts that say it. Instagram currently has 383,203 posts hashtagged with it. I don’t own anything with this portmanteau on it, and I don’t think I’ve used the hashtag before today. I guess I’ve never felt like I have the right to use this term since I still feel weird calling myself “from Buffalo.” I have yet to take ownership of this place and its Buffalove. So here’s to a new challenge of faking it until it’s real. Should I buy myself something with Buffalove insignia to kick off the challenge and inspire warm fuzzies toward my town, or save it as a reward for completing our parental leave challenge? Comment with your vote :o)