"Twenty-one years of Buffalove, and missed opportunities"

It's easy to look past everything the city has to offer


I went downtown to the Anchor Bar Saturday evening.

While I was sitting there, staring at a pile of conquered wings with bits of meat and skin hanging off the bones, it occurred to me that I often act, or feel, like a tourist in my hometown.

A person passed me while I was waiting for a table offered a similar sentiment. He was posing for a picture with his friends around a statue of a female waitress dressed ’50s clothing, holding a platter of wings when he said, “I feel like a tourist in my own town.”

Anchor bar's wings are good, but as blasphemous as it is for a Buffalonian to say, they’re not great. In the two or three times I’ve been there – a paltry amount compared to many – the wings and various other foods I’ve eaten have never beaten those of hole-in-the-wall places scattered around town.

Despite knowing better wings were minutes away, I sat in the restaurant eating hot wings, so lacking in sauce that they were mild at best and plain at worst. It’s still that iconic wing place that everyone has to visit every now and then.

I’ve lived here for 21 years and rarely feel like I’ve taken advantage of what the city and the surrounding area have to offer.

A few weeks ago, I was out exploring Elmwood – an activity I never do outside of wandering through the various festivals that take place on the street each year – with some friends when one of them showed us this beautiful place near the Albright Knox Art Gallery.

It was the type of place one might go to intimately walk around, gaze at the stars and talk with a date – maybe on a second or third date. It was one of the quietist and most beautiful places I’d ever seen in Buffalo and I struggled to think of somewhere that could match it. Someone who had been in area for less than two years knew about it before I did.

People come to The Queen City eager to explore it and discover places and things in it that I, as a 21-year resident, had no idea existed. There are things they don’t know about that I could show them, certainly.

It’s odd being toured around your city by people who’ve lived here a fraction of the time you have – let alone winding up at a place like Anchor Bar when you know better wings readily available 10-miles in any direction.

I don’t expect to be an expert on Buffalo. There will always be a nook or cranny left to be discovered, an eatery untried or an opportunity missed.

It would seem, however, I’ve spent far too much time settling into a routine of reading in Barnes and Noble rather than local hotspots like Talking Leaves or Rustbelt Books; too much time going to the movies on Friday’s instead of checking out First Friday at the Albright Knox Art Gallery or Burchfield Penney Across the street or in Allentown. I’ve spent too much time not embracing what this city has to offer, missing out on all its cultural opportunities and passing up far too many chances to find something new.

Maybe this is a common thing, for people to fall into routines that miss out on the advantages of their city or hometown. We become so used to daily routines that we miss things and it takes other people looking into them to show us the error in our ways. Maybe we just are meant to see everything after all and I haven’t made as many mistakes as I’ve thought.

Either way, I’ll keep searching.

email: jordan.oscar@ubspectrum.com