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Michele
7:00pm on a Wednesday
on our porch

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You actually just moved in with me not that long ago. What’s your favorite part of living in the city?

There’s always something to do. If I’m ever just here and I’m bored, I can think of a million places I could go. It’s a lot of freedom actually. When I lived in Greece, I was always driving back and forth. Sometimes I wouldn’t want to come out because it was such a hike. But everyone lives here, so now you have to have a good excuse if you don’t want to do something. But you usually do.

Do you have any secret spots?

When I lived at home, I had this spot at Greece Canal Park. It wasn’t so secret, but there was never anyone there. It was just where the old bike trails used to be in the woods. My brothers used to ride around back there. They made jumps and stuff. And I remember when we got old enough, my brother Mike, my cousin Chris, and I would take our bikes back there and ride down steep hills and off jumps.

There was also a secret spot we had in high school. Back behind where [my friends] Chris and Riley lived, there was a meadow. It was right off of Larkwood, I think? We had this fort back there called Fort Minor. We had this huge stuffed teddy bear nailed to a tree. It was really creepy (laughs). And we had a set of drums back there. We would just hang out and do kid stuff.

I feel like I’ve been there before, but I have no idea how to get there (laughs).

I know! That’s how secret it is. I also used to do a lot of abandoned building exploration. I remember going to…I think it was an abandoned automobile factory. I don’t remember it super vividly, but I remember arriving there, and seeing this huge building. It was nighttime. I think it was cold too, during the winter. And we went in this huge room and there was an enormous hole in the floor, down to the bottom level. I thought that was crazy because where we were standing was not safe at all. I can’t quite remember it all, but I remember that huge hole.

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Do you remember where it was?

It was in the city somewhere. I don’t know why automobile factory comes to mind, because I don’t recall hearing about any factories like that in the city. I want to say it could have been near the High Falls area? But I haven’t seen any buildings like that.

Also, they had closed up all these houses on Ridge Road [in Greece] and one time we went exploring in one. It was super creepy. We walked upstairs and there was this room that was overflowing with books. They were all over the floor. It was like a tornado came into the room. I think they just ended up being a bunch of old Reader’s Digest compilations. It was across the street from the Stutzman’s Guitar Center. It’s the creepiest house that is set all the way back. I remember when we were approaching the house we were all shaking in our boots. We were so scared!

Do you have any favorite places you like to go to now that you live in the city?

I really love our little area, close to Lakeshore and Magnolia’s. I feel like there are all these little sections on Park Ave and that one feels like mine. It’s the closest to us and it’s a cozy little section of the street.

Describe your dream Rochester day.

To be totally honest, the best days in Rochester, I’ve had them my whole life, are just back by our pool in Greece. When we were kids, it was a rectangular pool, and over the years it evolved into a kidney bean shape. It was just the best. We’d go out on a Saturday night, you know, party all night, and then Sunday you’d always expect everyone to be at my parent’s house, hanging out and playing yard games. There’d be guest appearances, families coming over with their kids, and always tons of dogs.

I’ve been there on Sundays. It’s a good time.

Yeah, actually, let’s say starting the day there, like a Saturday morning. Getting ready here, driving over there, stopping at Wegman’s, getting some sushi, and a couple of iced coffees. Then if it went well, everyone would just be starting to get there. We’d play yard games and hang out, chill with my family, maybe have some friends over too. And then after a day of roasting in the sun, come back here, and then go down to Mason’s. Mason’s is a really cool bar now. I like how you can go upstairs and downstairs. And it’s got a really good crowd too.

Do you have a favorite Rochester memory?

Oh yeah! I have a couple. I remember one night we were sitting on [my friend] Nicole’s old porch on Milburn. We were all drinking wine on the porch and hanging out. And we heard the neighbor across the street in distress. So we walked over there and asked if she was okay. Somebody had spray painted all the cars down the whole street. And she was so upset. You could tell she was having a rough night. She was like, "What am I going to do? Somebody spray painted my car!" Fortunately, someone knew how to get the spray paint off the car, so we were like, "We’ll help you get it off!" (laughs) We were all kind of drunk, so it seemed like a great idea to help. And we just had a really good time helping her out and getting the spray paint off the car (laughs).

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If you want to have a really good night, start it with tequila.

Awesome. Did it work?

Yeah, we got it all off. That was a really good memory. What else…

(laughs) I’ll tell you mine. It might jog your memory a bit. That time we went to Jazz Fest.

(laughs) YES! I was just thinking about that one. Start the night with tequila. We learned the rule that night. If you want to have a really good night, start it with tequila.

It was also super funny that we met Josh Nichols. (laughs) Local Rochester celebrity sighting. What’s your personal coping mechanism for bad weather?

Well, we had fun shoveling! (laughs) Were we drunk some of those times?

I don’t know (laughs). I think we were just drunk off of…I don’t know…

Tiredness? Well, we went sledding a couple of times and that kind of helped beat the blues. I guess if I was alone, I’d open up all the blinds and read a book right here. Or go for a walk. It’s still pretty. That one night, we just decided to go out in the snow. Why’d we do that?

Because there was a snow storm and we were just like, “Let’s just go to the bar and drink.”

Yeah and that guy kept buying everyone shots of fireball at Magpie. I must’ve had about 3 shots. I was pretty tipsy.

Me too. And I felt even drunker because it was so cold.

And then walking back we got those delicious subs from Cobb's Hill.

Okay, here we go. If Rochester were an animal, what would it be?

(laughs) Something that sticks around for all the seasons and doesn’t hibernate? Hmm, if Rochester were an animal…it’d be a red-winged bird! Is that a cardinal? What is that?

(laughs) I think it’s a cardinal, but I’m not sure. I feel like I should know this!

Oh my gosh, I don’t know what that thing is.

I know, me either!

We must be some kind of bird, like a fierce bird that sticks around for all the seasons. A red nighthawk! (laughs)

Michele Judkins and I met in a Friendly's Restaurant when we were twelve. I had an especially fun time with this one because Michele is my babe of a best friend who also happens to be my roommate. She's got great memories of exploring Rochester and if this reads like a big reminiscing session, it's because it was. Thanks, Michele!