Say Canandaigua five times fast

(CANANDAIGUA, N.Y.) — Before I write anything else, I must write this: Wegman’s. I have seen the light and it is the miles of food aisles in this regional grocery store chain. Trying to explain the beauty of this place, I can only think of anecdotes, such as the entire beer section dedicated to Pacific Northwest micro brews and the displays of food grown by local farmers. In Marin County, where I was mostly raised, I think chains are seen as a little dirty. The IKEAs and Krispy Kremes and Safeways are historically wedged in far-off parts of the Bay Area or are simply kind of grungy. At any rate, many don’t seem prized, but here, people LOVE Wegman’s. They celebrate it. What a different mentality. I have no idea what state of mind I prefer. I do enjoy the food palace’s opulence but also feel like a slight tool because of that.

This is definitely the cutest thing I saw in Canandaigua. This little family was right by the lake.

This is definitely the cutest thing I saw in Canandaigua. This little family was right by the lake.

It’s nice in Canandaigua. This is the kind of town that people are proud to be from, the kind of spot that people stay in or return to, or at least that’s my sense of it. I’m not sure how big it is, but it’s large enough to have a community college, Panera Bread Co. (which, thankfully, has fast, free internet) and hefty amount of traffic. The downtown is cute, and the jewel of this place is really the lake, which shares the town’s name. It’s big, filled with bright, white sailboats and lined with tons of people on blankets, park benches and bikes. Today and tomorrow, there are a few festivals going on at the water’s edge, and of course I’ll check them out. I always like stuff such as that, community efforts that I’m not actually emotionally involved in. My lack of attachment gives me free reign to just enjoy them — and then leave whenever I want.

By the way, I suppose I wouldn’t be jumping into writing this morning if I didn’t feel so sober. Recently, an old man I’ve been friendly with sexually harassed me in a sad way. He asked me to kiss him, and I said no, and it’s no big deal, except that it reminded me how damn vulnerable I am out here. It made me lonely. What I really want to do is call up a certain friend and have him talk to me, about anything, but I think that would be uncouth. If I can’t deal with these sorts of things on my own, then what’s the point of the trip? Self-reliance is the idea — though a big bear hug from someone I care about would be lovely right now.
This is one of the friendliest camps I've ever been in, and it was filled mostly with retirees. I stopped by a few times to take showers, and always people were warm and helpful.

It’s weird to have to find your comfort wherever you can, preferably without coming into contact with anyone. When I’m lonely, that’s the time I absolutely don’t want to strike up a conversation with a soul. I don’t trust myself enough right then. So, I try to shut up, wake up and look around me. Last night, when I was in that state, I ended up downtown, in front of a free concert hosted by a trio of string-playing middle-aged guys. They were working a banjo, guitar and fiddle, and the music was sweet. There was a large, pastel-wearing crowd of older people and families, and they were clapping and smiling at all the recognizable folk offerings. By the time the group played some kid songs while wearing Muppet masks, I was in love with all the musicians. When they closed their set with “This Land is Your Land,” I was grinning, trying to hold on to the innocence of the moment in my mind.

As I already wrote, I do love those kinds of community things.

1 comment to Say Canandaigua five times fast

  • Stina Ausrotas

    Hi Stina. I am from London, Ontario. Read your story in “City Woman” magazine. Actually mailing a copy to my cousin in Toronto, Ontario whose name is also Stina. Our grandmother was Augustina. My parents decided to cut it short. I get alot of compliments on our name. My parents are Italian. Have heard our name is Scandanavian.
    Your journeys are very interesting. How exciting to travel everywhere! I have shown my son (almost 18 yrs old) your articles as he is in his first year at the University of Western Ontario (where you visited). He’s taking mostly English and plans to continue in Journalism or something along that line. He’s a reader and always has been, and English has been his best subject since he was little.
    Anyhow, good luck with your adventure! I will definately keep reading your blog.
    take care, Stina Ausrotas

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