The City of Buffalo, NY came into my life seemingly randomly in 1999. I wanted to go home, but for various reasons, it wasn’t working out for me to go home to Duluth, Minnesota…and one day, I dreamed about a buffalo, running. When I woke up, I looked online for an apartment in Buffalo, and bing, bam boom, in an hour I’d got one. The lady actually saved it for me for a couple of days so I could go and look at it. I loved it. It was in a big old house, with a covered front porch, (I was soon to learn the second floor porch culture is alive and well in Buffalo–in summertime everyone is on the second floor porch sitting, or growing gardens, or barbecuing) and in two months’ time, I was moved to Buffalo. Coming into the city, I saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree–the first live one I’d ever seen–and it seemed a powerful, positive sign that this is where I was meant to be. I was newly divorced, with all of the confusion that goes along with that; having profoundly lost a sense of self in my life growing up which was only exacerbated by my marriage, I was coming to Buffalo having lost everything. I did not know I would find myself both as a writer and as a woman.
Buffalo, called the”Queen City of the Lakes, positioned between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, is of course the “home” of hydroelectricity, with Nikola Tesla putting his first turbines here at Niagara Falls, whose water still power the US and Canadian sides of the river. During the day, when I took this photo, Niagara shines with a light of its own. Niagara, the waters of Iroquoian legend, where the Maid of the Mist, Lelawala, plummeted over the falls riding in her canoe mourning the death of her husband, and was caught by the god of thunder who brought her to live with him and nursed her back to health. She fell in love with him and married, and they both lived behind the Falls. Gazing into the photo, the Rainbow Bridge spans the gorge and it is easy to see why the Rainbow Bridge has the name.
I spend much time these days gazing at the blue green waters of Niagara; I have come home a second time, again seeking healing. I think about the love that is lost, and then the river reminds me of the nature we live in which is constantly renewing itself and that reminds me that maybe the love we give and the love we receive, whether it be from a lover, a husband, parents, family or friends is never really gone; it too renews itself and ebbs and surges like the water, like hope that there is something benevolent who created all we see, who created us to be one with Nature, and in Nature’s endless variety, variations and adaptions, there is always beauty to be found, even in our darkest hours, our deepest sadnesses. The leaves on the trees bud, leaf out, celebrate their lives all spring and summer,and then emerge victorious by not just fading out and falling, but exploding in the fireworks of colors that make endings not a thing to be feared, but a thing that is vibrant, and beautiful, that are not gone forever, but promise to return again anew in time; an endless cycle of life and death and rebirth. That is what love is like, to me, even now in my sadness. The truth of what I do not see tells me that love is never gone, never wasted, and will sprout and grow again in time, if we are patient, if we have faith, if we believe. And in the meanwhile, in the between time, there is Buffalo, good friends, good foods from every culture imaginable, good music, of all varieties, art, all a celebration of all cultures and walks of life in its residents. Life goes on during loss. Life goes on during the blind times when we do not know where we are going; life goes on, and if we do not fear it, if we do not shut it out, it beckons endlessly for us to join in it and walk in faith to the next season and the next.
For now, this is home. This is the place to heal, to let the waters wash over my soul.