Batavia: Not just a place to pass through
After 18 months of living in Batavia, local blogger Martin Szinger is getting settled into life in his new home town.
I was born and raised the Town of Tonawanda, a first-ring suburb of Buffalo. As an adult, I moved out to the "country" in Genesee County, Town of Batavia. Always Buffalo-facing, I never gave much thought to the City of Batavia, five miles to the east, other than it being the shopping destination of choice for most of life's daily needs. I came to understand that most of Genesee County is more likely to be Rochester-facing - we got the 585 area code with them, bland pollsters operating from a half a world away assume we watch the Rochester TV stations, and so on. But I never gave much consideration to the idea that any significant number of people could be Batavia-facing.
Great way of putting it: That you can live in Batavia and not look to Buffalo or to Rochester, but actually be Batavia-facing.
It's probably no surprise that Martin getting knee deep in appreciation for Batavia coincides with his reading Bill Kauffman's book.
Slowly, I've become more interested in the history of the place. I've just finished reading Bill Kauffman's Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, in which the author's classic experience of the Native Son returning to his small hometown is set in the very same Batavia. It's his vehicle for bemoaning so much of what's been lost in Small Town America and also celebrating the good in What Remains There, but it's also very much about Batavia. Literate (probably to a fault) and witty (to compensate), Kauffman produces a veritable parade of references that shed light on Batavia so as to almost move it from the Real to the Mythic. You can feel the love, and it's contagious.
You can enrich your life when you turn to your own home town and make it not just a place where you watch TV and sleep at night, but where you actually live.