Corning at 29: Coming to Terms with Actually Liking Your Hometown

It was really a weird thing when friends, visiting from their ‘semi-glamorous-big-city-traveler-book-publisher-professional-photographer-literal-rocket-scientist-subway lives’ would come to see us in little Corning and say, “What’s the deal? Corning’s like… fun, now.”

And it was even weirder when I, living my ‘half-finished-farmhouse-two-cats-one-dog-one-husband-failing-to-garden-working-at-a-museum life’ replied with, “I know, right?”

Here’s a quick breakdown: I grew up in South Corning (Foster Road!), graduated from West High School (Masterworks!), managed to get a scholarship at Colby College and moved to a somehow-even-smaller small town (Waterville!). My now-husband graciously helped me move 12+ times in a span of just a few years, and I did a good hop around: Corning to Waterville, Maine to Cusco, Peru to Waterville, Maine to Salamanca, Spain to Waterville, Maine to Corning to Ithaca, NY to Portland, Maine and finally to Hornby, NY.

No, I’m not the most well-traveled person, but when I decided to stay in Corning (ahem, Hornby), it was by choice – I think this is key when you’re a twenty-something. It needs to be your choice rather than just feeling stuck. That said, the decision was made with a lot of self-doubt and a healthy portion of apprehension lurking in the back of my mind.

Here are some things that have made the move back to the area a little easier, and continue to make Corning pretty darn awesome:

171 Cedar Arts Center

I feel “hashtag-blessed” that 171 took me onto their staff when I moved back to Corning “for real this time.” I felt like an integral part of the team and was able to really grow my marketing/communication skills with on-the-job training. I’m still involved via Women’s Chorale, ceramic workshops, and oil painting classes. I just signed up for “Oil Painter for Beginners” and damn it, I’m excited. Having an outlet for my artistic side, where I can just get absorbed in one thing for at least two-hours a week, really helps keep me sane.

Being In A Position To Offer Sweet Experiences To My Peers

I’m lucky to have very satisfying work with a really great group of passionate, intelligent people. And, since working at The Rockwell, I’ve been able to be part of some really amazing planning groups. I’m part of the committee that’s been making Urban Arts Crawl happen, and have been part of a team making The Rockwell approachable and fun for a new audience: SEE YOU THIS FRIDAY AT ROCKWELL ROADHOUSE (or else). RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE. SHAMELESS PLUG OVER. Seriously though, the band is going to be great.

The opening of the Contemporary Art + Design Wing at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Great Places to Hang

If I’m not hiding out in Hornby dreaming of how I can feasibly become a cat farmer, I’m drinking gin at Hand + Foot, dancing like a fool at the bar formally known as T.O.P, or stuffing my face with pizza-of-the-day at Atlas Pizza. A good Upstate-gal, I’m big into chicken wings and fish fry – I recommend The Woodhouse, The Country Pub II, or R&M. Admittedly, sometimes you can find me at The Haunt, The Dock, Two Goats, Stonecat Café, or just hanging out at my parents’ house in Hector. When these things get stale, I throw my own party (you’re invited) or, I go try something new. There’s been a lot of healthy additions to the Corning area lately.

Friendship

Yeah. It’s cheesy. But man – without friends, a hometown is just a regular town. While I’ve done my share of dreading a Wegmans trip, the majority of the time it feels really great to walk down Market Street to get a smoothie and run into or wave to twenty different people that I really like. And somehow I keep making more friends. Y’know when you come back from college for break and you say – who the hell are all these people? Well, I’ve met them and they’re really cool, nice and interesting!

I’m turning 30 this December, and I’m not ashamed to admit that some of that self-doubt and apprehension creeps into the back of mind here and there. And if we’re talking long-term plan, no I don’t necessarily see myself being Corning’s cheerleader for the rest of eternity. But things are pretty good right now, so, for the time being, I’ll continue to see you around town!

Willa Rose Vogel

Willa Rose Vogel

Willa Rose Vogel is an almost-thirty something, living in Hornby and working in Corning, NY at The Rockwell Museum. She’s enthusiastic about catscatscats, vacations, Twin Peaks, stacking donuts for art, feminism, live music, fake tattoos, floating in water, hot pretzels, card games, and (most of all!) friendship.
Willa Rose Vogel

@WillaVogel

Museums, design, friendship, communications. Also, pizza.
RT @SUEtheTrex: ┏┓ ┃┃╱╲ in this ┃╱╱╲╲ house ╱╱╭╮╲╲ we ▔▏┗┛▕▔ ╱▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔╲ consider T. rex the best dinosaur ╱╱┏┳┓╭╮ ┏┳┓ ╲╲ ▔▏┗┻┛┃┃… - 3 days ago
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