by: Elizabeth Chatterton
My relationship with Buffalo can be described as an unplanned love affair.
I never meant to fall for the place - but I did. And I fell hard.
I moved here for college, less than thrilled. My top choice school in Boston had accepted me but I couldn’t afford it. The thought of passing student loans down to my grandchildren stressed me out and Canisius had offered me a very generous scholarship.
I needed a degree, so I packed up my things, made up my mind to make the best of it, and moved into the dorms on Main Street. My intentions were to be done with school, and Buffalo, in four years or less.
And here I am, a decade later. My formal education was completed on time - I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. So I stayed.
Today, I’m finally ready to head home. (I think?)
While there are many things to look forward to, I still adore Buffalo so much that leaving is very bittersweet. In the midst of so much uncertainty and change, I’m taking comfort in the one thing that I know for sure:
I came to Buffalo for an education and Buffalo gave me the education of a lifetime.
5 Things Living in Buffalo Taught Me About Life
1. Always be a good neighbor.
It’s not until you spend a significant amount of time here that you realize “The City of Good Neighbors” is much, much more than a tagline. It’s an honest to God core value - and everyone buys in.
Whether you’re stuck in a snowbank, organizing a festival, or turning vacant lots into community gardens, you know that you can rely on the constant support of the people around you. If nothing else, you’re Buffalonians and whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re in it together.
It’s inspiring. It’s something other communities should emulate. Because even in the worst circumstances, it vastly improves everyones quality of life.
2. What everyone else thinks really doesn’t matter.
For reasons I’ll never understand, the rest of the world gets some kind of a rise out of ragging on Buffalo. Once you live here you learn to let the lame Super Bowl jokes go. You stop trying to convince people that the weather isn’t really all that bad. You might even think it’s kind of adorable when Anderson Cooper breaks out into uncontrollable fits of laughter while making fun of Dyngus Day.
My point is, you don’t let what everyone else thinks and says get to you. You know that it really doesn’t matter. Furthermore, you know the truth about Buffalo - and you’re a better person for it.
3. Know your strengths & flaunt your best assets.
If you’ve got curves, get out there and find a sexy little dress that hugs you in all the right places. If you’ve got gorgeous downtown waterfront, for the love of all things holy develop it!
4. A little bit of pride goes a long way.
Buffalonians are the proudest people I know. And it’s amazing.
How many Queen-City-centric t-shirt companies are there? How many Bills Backers bars exist? How many expats have come back? Did you ever hear Tim Russert talk?
It’s actually kind of crazy when you think about it. Thankfully, intense Buffalo pride is usually a healthy combination of dignity, honor and grace.
While I may not have been born in the 716, I will always be incredibly proud to have spent such a big chunk of my life here. Even though I’m leaving Buffalo, my Buffalo pride will never leave me.
5. Never give up.
My time in Buffalo has taught me that everything (and everyone) has value - and that it’s never too late to make a comeback.
Empty grain silos aren’t empty! They’re full of history and just so happen to be the perfect place for art installations and rock climbing and really awesome parties. Just ask anyone who attended City of Night.
Rundown buildings and seemingly dilapidated neighborhoods can be relevant again - and they can thrive. Don’t take my word for it, follow Bernice Radle of Buffalove Development or stop by the West Side Bazaar.
It’s not over until it’s over - and you should never ever leave a Bills game early.