I don’t know how it happened, but this month marked 25 years since I first moved to Albany. I wonder, does the fact that I’ve lived here more than half of my life make me an Albanian? So many of my life’s milestones occurred here, in one of America’s most unfriendly cities, that, no matter what the future holds, I will always consider Albany to be the place I truly became an adult.
Albany is the city where I got my college degrees, got married and had my babies. It’s also the place where I’ve had my apartment robbed, my bike(s) stolen and got divorced. When I first arrived in Albany in the midst of a heat wave in 1988, I did so with the expectation that I would get my education and then move on or even back to where I came from. Funny how that never happened.
I fell in love slowly with our fair city. Washington Park courted me with its free performances at Park Playhouse (in the early days before there was even seating!) and the Shakespeare productions on the parade grounds. The spectacular flowers impressed me so very much that when it came time to pick an outdoor space for my wedding, the choice was simple – Washington Park it was. It was beautiful.
When I arrived in Albany, I had a resume detailing my five years of restaurant experience. In the 25 years since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great industry professionals and my love for the restaurant business has only grown. The opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve met have changed my life in countless ways. I’ve been amazingly lucky.
While not all of my interactions with the medical community locally have been positive, the NICU at Albany Med cured me of any impulse to use the term Smalbany in a disparaging tone of voice. My son’s life was saved there and I won’t ever forget that fact. My subsequent births were at St. Peter’s and those experiences were incredibly satisfying. I’ve been cared for.
My career as a school librarian has given me the opportunity to meet and work with thousands of individuals, students, faculty, administration and support staff alike. Working in education is challenging and exhausting but, even more so, it is inspiring. There’s nothing like working with teenagers to keep a person on their toes and I so appreciate the things I have learned from my students. I’ve learned so much.
The interests I’ve long considered to be casual past times, namely writing and photography, have been publicly exposed during my residence in Albany. I never imagined that my thoughts and words would be actually published in print and it kind of thrills me. Having the chance to attend concerts and other fun events to capture other folks having a good time has been such a gift. I’ve been able to express myself creatively.
People and relationships are what life is ultimately about, though. People who I have come to know have inspired, encouraged and supported me in ways I never knew were even possible. And, while I’ve fallen in, and out of, love with individuals in Albany, the warmth I feel for my city remains fairly constant. I’ve been loved.
Thank you, Albany.