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Karen Allendoerfer

February Vacation Week, Part III

February 29, 2008 at 12:35 PM

Sunday: The alarm goes off at 4:40 a.m. and wakes up me and my daughter. Not my son--he has to be woken up. I dress quickly in the dark and drag the suitcases into the otherwise well-loaded car. My parents are up, drowsily, to say goodbye.

Grateful again for cruise control, I put it on 74 mph and head east on the I-90. Fortunately, Emily's cop doesn't seem to work here.

The kids sleep for about 3 hours. The road is clear of snow and pretty much of other cars too. I drink a yogurt smoothie from the cup holder. As I watch the sun come up, my mind wanders. I wonder again about why my parents won't move out of Buffalo. My father was a Chemistry professor at SUNY/Buffalo, recently retired. The living there is not particularly easy. The weather is tough and the economy is too. At least they were able to sell their house--but they are only downsizing, moving a few miles away.

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I had to move back there for some reason. There isn't any tech industry to speak of, so my husband and I would be out of work. And I find myself wondering even more about music. I only know of one community orchestra in the area, but maybe there are more. It was kind of like that when I was growing up too: limited opportunities, limited scope. It wasn't really until I went to college that I began to understand what a wide world there was out there.

Despite the similarities in the weather, the Boston/Cambridge area where I live now feels totally different. It's technology central--literally--I work right next to a piece of real estate called "Technology Square." And the more I look the more I find musical opportunities galore. They don't necessarily pay anything, but if I want to play, which is my goal, I can. I have the reverse problem in Boston that I had as a kid: rather than feeling bored and stifled, I live in the middle of an embarrassment of riches, a banquet. I can't eat it all or I'll get sick.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 2:00 PM
Similarities between the weather in the two places? Only the cold winters. Boston gets nothing like the snow of Buffalo.

My parents were also academics who lived in the Boston area and felt that it was a wonderful place to live (and possibly the center of civilized life in the world). When my father came to Tufts in the early 1960s, SUNY/Buffalo offered to double his salary if he would come there. He did not give it a second thought (other than to use the offer to jack more $$ out of Tufts). I hope to G-d you never have to go settle in Buffalo.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 2:19 PM
I lived in the Buffalo area for about 12 years, from when I was 3 until when I was 16, with a sabbatical to Chapel Hill NC. That time included the infamous Blizzard of '77, during which the area was declared a National Disaster Area by President Carter.

So I already have spent some time "settled" there--and I'm sure that experience played a big role in why I went to Stanford and Caltech for grad school and postdoc. I wanted some sun and warmth! And I still miss that . . .

I really haven't noticed a big difference in the weather between Buffalo and Boston. Boston had the equally infamous blizzard of '78 a year later. And these days usually when I call my parents on the phone from Boston they tell me about the weather we're going to get a few days later. The lake effect snow off Lake Erie hits the "southtowns," south of Buffalo, especially hard. But my parents live to the north of the city, and the University is also to the north.

I've considered leaving Boston because of the weather, but decided a few years ago to try to embrace it instead. Bought skis and ice skates for the family, stopped driving to work.

But I think I'm really a California girl at heart.

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