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See you (later), Rochester

This isn't goodbye, I promise!

Five years. For half a decade, I've had the privilege of calling The Flower City home. And while I feel like the pandemic stole a couple of years from all of us, I can't express enough how much I've really enjoyed my time here. But while Rochester has come to feel like home, it's finally time for me to return to my family in Texas. It's bittersweet, to say the least.

Now, I know I still owe you a post about Japan. Unfortunately, my grandmother recently passed away, and that kept me understandably busy with various things. And now the move is keeping me busy with other things. Still, I wanted to make sure I took some time this week to give a proper "see you later." This isn't goodbye, but after so much time, there's a lot to reflect on, and so many people to thank.

Highland Park

My Love for the Flower City

I moved to Rochester in the Spring of 2018 to join the Spectrum News team here. I came to the South Wedge, a neighborhood I never left in my entire time here. I fell in love with reading books under the lilacs at Highland Park in the spring, and walking along the Genesee River with Hedonist ice cream in hand during the summer. And of course, anyone who has followed my blog for any amount of time knows how much tea has come to mean to me - all thanks to the Happy Earth Tea bar I stumbled into one Saturday afternoon.

At Spectrum, I started on the nightside team, turning news for the 10 p.m. newscast. We endearingly called ourselves the Nightside Knights. I've never felt such camaraderie in a newsroom before. I dearly miss all of my fellow Knights, many who have gone on to do great things. I keep in contact with nearly all of them.

Nightside Knights! Christmas 2020

I've also been blessed to be in a newsroom with so much experience, and so much talent. My managers, and many of my reporter colleagues, have been in the business for 20+ years. Many of them have Emmys, or other prestigious journalism-related accolades. I leaned on all of them, and learned as much as I could. I'm proud of how much I've grown during my time here, and it's all thanks to them. Spectrum has seen a lot of change since I started, but what hasn't changed is the passion from those I work with. My managers are still pushing me to be the best journalist I can be, and I'll always be thankful for that.

I'm fortunate to have many friends still within the newsroom walls, and what really pains me is leaving them and all the other friends I've managed to make outside the walls too.

Lifting Rochester's Voices

The Rochester community-at-large has always been so friendly and welcoming. I've had very few negative interactions with anyone at all - and besides my car being stolen earlier this year - my existence here has been fairly hassle free.

As a journalist, I'm thankful for everyone who welcomed me into their homes, and shared their stories with me - even if it wasn't easy, or painful. Rochester has seen so much news in my short time here, so many important stories. But the best voice for these stories are those who lived them. I'm just grateful to have been able to give those voices a platform.

As an author, I'm thankful for those who gave me a chance on my first book. Those who stopped by my table at a book store or festival and chatted with me. Those who followed up with me later to give me feedback on Wis' Apothecary. I've gained a small and loyal following, which includes fan fiction and Halloween costumes. I am truly humbled, and I hope you continue following Isabel's journey towards becoming a witch. Book two is just around the corner!!

But it wasn't just the community that embraced me, but the micro-communities I found that really made my time here in Rochester so much fun.

To Those Who Made Rochester Home

First, the Hammergirl Anime mahjong club. If you haven't read the blog post, I found Hammergirl as a big fan of anime and manga. Every Saturday a group played mahjong in the back, and it captured my attention. I've been hooked since, and have played with this same group of people for my entire time here - though again, the pandemic stole some time from us.

Just last night, we played a few farewell games. And afterwards we went out to eat, and they were kind enough to treat me to dinner. Mahjong and dinner has become a Saturday ritual for me, and I'm not sure how I'll fill the void when I return home. Maybe I'll have to start a club of my own! Haha

I'm so grateful they all taught me this wonderful game, which has allowed me to go on and make friends even outside of Rochester - at tournaments, and my online league. There's a lot of laughter around the mahjong table, and I can't wait for the day when I get to rejoin my friends for a game.

One of my last games. Look at that score!

Then there's, of course, Happy Earth Tea. I spend so much time there, it's practically a home away from home. But the relationships I've formed there go beyond sharing tea. We meet up to try new restaurants, or cook vegan pizza at home. We meet up for game nights and trivia at less tea-related bars. A group of us went to the Lilac Fest just last week to support one of our friend's daughters play in a band. Tonight they're hosting a going away party for me.

It's hard to even find the appropriate words to type. Happy Earth, and the people there, have come to mean so much to me. I'm really so grateful, and I can't believe I lucked into finding such a wonderful community right here in Rochester.

Happy Earth at the Lilac Fest!

Happy Earth even introduced me to my editor, who has really become not just a mentor, but a precious friend. We began meeting on Tuesdays to discuss edits of my book, but now we still meet and discuss just about anything else. I'm a better writer today thanks to him, and Welcome to Wis' Apothecary is a better product. I can't be grateful enough. But I'm really blessed that a simple working relationship turned into something so fruitful and enriching.

My editor and I, the Great One Bob M.

Thank You, From the Bottom of my Heart

With all that said, it's clear there's too much here for me to leave forever. I will definitely be back. I have two weddings this summer alone, and then there's mahjong tournaments and book festivals. Welcome to Wis' Apothecary started here, so I fully intend to return for book releases and signings. It's the least I can do to repay everyone's kindness. As a bonus, I'll get to stop at Happy Earth for some tea, and join my friends around the mahjong table.

But as painful as goodbyes are, I take solace in knowing I'm not actually saying it. And of course, I'm obviously thrilled to be returning home, where my loved ones anxiously wait for my return. I've been away from my family for too long, through a pandemic and everything. If I could, I'd move everyone I care about up to Rochester, or at the very least, establish a direct flight to Dallas. But that's beyond my power, so I need to go where I'm needed. It's time.

To be honest, I'm not sure what the future holds for me. I'm returning home without any secured prospects, but I'm confident everything will work out. As long as I can keep writing and telling stories, I'll be happy. And, in the end, family is what's most important.

Thank you Rochester, for everything. From the bottom of my heart. I'll see you later, that's a promise.

And as always, until next time... thanks for reading!

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