I’ve been noticeably absent from the blog lately. For months, actually. Which is unlike me. There’s not much that can stop me from talking. But my life has taken a major detour these last few months, and contemplating the implications of the changes affecting me and my family has taken a toll on my creativity and ambition.

In late September, my husband accepted a new job in Northeast Ohio, about 15 miles SE of Cleveland. It all happened so quickly. He moved there almost immediately, and started his new job on October 1. We both honestly thought we’d be fully moved to OH by Thanksgiving, but the slow housing market seems to have other ideas. Our house is still for sale, and it doesn’t seem like we’ll see any movement until after the new year (know anyone looking for a spacious townhouse in Clifton Park?). And we don’t want to carry two mortgages…

So, I’m here alone in NY – working, wrangling our two rambunctious dogs, and keeping our house showroom-tidy every minute of every day. Vacuuming alone is a full time job. We visit each other about once a month, and rely on Facebook chat to actually see each other’s faces. It’s all been incredibly exhausting – physically and mentally. And really lonely. I just have no energy or inspiration left for writing.

Well, I guess until now.

Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be moving anytime really soon, I will at least have the opportunity to enjoy some things that I know I will really miss about the Capital Region and New York State in general. And there really are lots of things that I will indeed miss! I’ve lived in the Capital Region for 22 years, and I’ve lived in NYS for my entire life. It’d be odd if there weren’t things that I’ve grown to love about this place.

The yellow area represents the parts of NYS I might miss from time to time. I will never miss the white areas.

Here are the things I’m gonna miss, in no particular order:

  • Stewart’s. Yep, the regional convenience store chain. Now, I’m not nearly as Stewart’s-obsessed as some bloggers I know, but I do appreciate having a Stewart’s nearby, no matter where I am in the area (and, for the record, I pass SIX Stewart’s shops on my 13-mile drive to and from work). There are a few things about Stewart’s that I will especially miss: their butter-and-peanut-butter hardrolls (don’t ask), their coffee (so much better than Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and the swill you find at every other gas station/convenience store), and of course –  their ice cream. I’ve been to NE Ohio twice so far this fall, and in my drives around the region, I have not discovered a chain similar to Stewart’s. Sure, there are lots of national chains out there, but nothing that gives me that hometown, local feeling. Stewart’s may not be fancy, but their stores are among the best things about Upstate NY.
  • Mozzarella sticks with raspberry sauce. “WTF?” you say? Well, I will defer to The Profussor for the official discourse on the subject, but I will say that it is one of my favorite regional specialties. I know there are many who dispute its regionality, but I will say that I had never seen them before moving here for college, and they sure aren’t on any takeout menus I’ve seen anywhere else in this country. I’m not extensively-traveled, but I’ve been around a bit. You just don’t see them anywhere else. My first time was in 1990 or 1991, at the Parc V Cafe near the Albany Airport (remember that place? It was fancy-schmancy, especially for a downstate farm girl). My friend Marty (from Long Island) were intrigued by the “deep fried cheese with raspberry sauce”, and we’ve been fans ever since.
  • Decent Pizza. Now, I’m no connoisseur, but I do realize that pizza doesn’t stand much of a chance outside of New York. Many people believe that pizza in Upstate is horrible, compared to NYC. I don’t know from NYC pizza, so I’ll step out of that argument. What I do know: over the Thanksgiving weekend I spent in OH, we did order a pizza from a local place. Pretty awful. The crust was an abomination. I guess I’m just going to have to make my own.
  • Italian Bakeries. You can’t swing a dead cat around here without hitting an Italian bakery. And baking is something the Italians do well: cannolis, sfagliotelle, Neopolitan cookies, anise cookies…and let us not forget those Villa Italia Mousse Mice. I might need to have someone ship me some once in a while…
  • Extensive grocery shopping options. This is actually a recent development. Up until a couple years ago, Price Chopper and Hannaford were the only games in town (along with the Niskayuna Coop or Honest Weight Food Co-Op if you were so inclined, which I never was). Now there’s WalMart, Target, ShopRite, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, and – coming soon – Whole Foods. Plus ethnic markets, and many many farmers markets. Just tons of options. The area in Ohio where we’re moving (Cleveland’s South Side, around Solon) has a few grocery stores – one large chain (Giant Eagle) and a smaller, more upscale chain (Heinen’s). Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Penzey’s Spices are just a short highway drive north (about 7 miles), so I should be fine (if there were no TJ’s, I think I might have flat-out refused to move there). There just aren’t as many options, unless I’m missing something.
  • This is not food-related, but I will desperately miss the tight-knit business community in Schenectady County that I’ve been privileged to be part of for the past eight years. I have made so many amazing friends through my work at the Chamber of Schenectady County, Schenectady County itself, and Schenectady Greenmarket. It’s going to be difficult going from being a medium-sized fish in a large-ish pond to a small anonymous fish in a HUGE pond. One thing I do have going for me: I ain’t shy. I’m sure I’ll find something to get involved in, and I’ll hopefully be engaged in my new community in short order.
  • My Dogs’ Vet Office. I have been taking Quincy to Sunnyside Veterinary Hospital since she was a puppy (11 years now), and I cannot say enough great things about the staff there. They love my dogs, and take such good care of them. I’ve been bringing them to daycare every weekday since Bob moved, and every morning they are waiting for them, with hugs, kisses, and love. Jeannine, Joe, Betsy, Camille, Dr. Hornfeck – thank you for all of the love and care you’ve provided to Quincy (and Bella) over the years. I hope I’m able to find a vet office half as wonderful as yours in Ohio.
  • Saratoga Springs during track season. I just love the whole thing – the horse racing, the fancy hats, the endless parties and galas, everything surrounding the annual meet. It really is the “summer place to be” – I’m going to miss being close enough to easily enjoy it.
  • Family, obviously. My immediate family lives downstate NY (Middletown, Poughkeepsie), and my extended family lives in and around Albany. Bob’s dad lives right near us, too. But we don’t have any friends or family in Ohio. It’s going to be difficult for me to be so far from my family – I’ve never been more than a couple hours away. Bob’s mom and sister live in Virginia, so he’s accustomed to being somewhat far away from relatives – but I know he’s feeling as anxious about the distance as I am. Luckily we’ll be living close to a large-ish airport, and withing reasonable driving distance (8 hours or so) from just about everyone.
  • Friends. When you live somewhere for 22 years, you make a friend or two. The majority of my close pals live far away already, so we’re sort of accustomed to distance, but my bestie Shannon still lives in the CapDistrict, and now she’ll REALLY be on the other end of the universe from me (seriously – Averill Park is WAY TOO FAR from Schenectady).  I have the sadz about this (and I’m wishing we got together more often). I will also miss all of the other incredible friends I have made around here over the years, including my awesome next-door neighbors Mark & Mary (and their kids). Luckily, though, they do have internet in Ohio, and I’ll be just a Facebook or Twitter post away from connecting with my friends.
  • My History. The thought of leaving all of my history behind is somewhat overwhelming. Just about every place I drive past evokes some sort of memory for me – I’m even going to miss seeing the places that make me think of people who are – for one reason or another – no longer in my life. Happy memories, despite unhappy endings. But I’m afraid of losing those memories entirely, since I won’t be seeing those places anymore. Not sure if that’s ultimately a good or bad thing.

What I Won’t Miss: the Rexford Bridge, Crossgates Mall, dumbass New York State liquor laws (in Ohio, you can buy wine EVERYWHERE!), high sales taxes, bad NY attitudes, bad NY drivers, the TimeWarner Cable ISP monopoly,  corrupt politicians in Albany (though I’m sure they have those in OH, too), expensive gas. I’m sure I’ll think of more things.

My next post will be Things I Am Excited About. There are lots of things in the Cleveland area that I can’t wait to enjoy (some food related, some not), and I am looking forward to sharing my new life and discoveries with you all. I am actually very excited about the move – it’s not every day you are given the opportunity to start fresh, and potentially re-invent yourself. From what I’ve been reading, Cleveland is a Rust Belt City that’s on the rebound. In anticipation of my new digs, I’ve been following lots of Cleveland businesses and orgs on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m liking what I’m reading so far. Seems like it’s got tons of great restaurants, cultural venues, and interesting places. Cleveland, dare I say it, rocks. I’ll keep you posted.

If you were going to start over somewhere new, what would you miss about where you’re leaving? If you *have* moved, what did you miss the most?