Confessions of a Rockford Transplant
Full Disclosure: I’m not originally from Rockford. I didn’t grow up here, didn’t go to school here, and certainly don’t know all the intricacies of Rockford’s history, but I am certainly proud to now call Rockford my home. In fact, it’s the first place I’ve ever lived where I truly feel a part of the community and feel like it is a place I want to settle down! Even now, I technically live in Loves Park, but always say that I’m from Rockford.
Someone once told me, “perspective is everything,” and it has stuck with me ever since because it means so much in so many different situations.
When it comes to Rockford, perspective is definitely something I have because I’ve lived in so many different places, and I chose Rockford as my hometown.
I grew up in Michigan in a small city of about 40,000 people. I did what was considered “normal”, went to grade school, graduated high school, and then went on to college. I went to college in southern Ohio, where I lived for about 5 years. After graduation I moved to San Francisco. Culture Shock! I lived in a tiny space on the first floor of a woman’s house for 2 years, and then I moved to the “East Bay”, south of Oakland, CA. I lived there for three years until my job moved me to the Chicago Suburbs. I lived in the suburbs for 5 years, and then I met my boyfriend and started coming to Rockford regularly.
My boyfriend has lived in Rockford for almost 15 years, and when I first started dating him, he took me to all kinds of places. We took walks on the river pathway down by Nicholas Conservatory, ate brats at Der Rathskeller, went to City Market, ate Woodfire Pizza out of their portable pizza oven, went to Anderson Japanese Gardens, and rode our bikes on the bike paths through Rock Cut State Park and along the River. We ate pizza at Capri Restaurant, and had drinks at Pig Minds Brewing Company and Carlyle Brewing Company, we went to Dinner on the Dock at Prairie Street Brewhouse, we played mini-golf at Volcano Falls, and ate dinner at Franchesco’s. And that was just in the first few months we met!
It may have been a naïve perspective, but I had no clue this region suffered from a reputation problem. What I saw and experienced made me fall in love with the place. Eventually I took a job at Eclipse (now a part of Honeywell), moved to Rockford, and haven’t looked back!
I can honestly say that I’ve had more fun, felt better, had more opportunities to meet people, have had more great experiences, have been able to make a difference in the community, and been happier since making the move.
My mom, sister, and niece visited me last summer and they could not stop raving about what a great place this is! We took my niece to the Discovery Center, then for a ride on the Forest City Queen, then on the trolley cars, then a stroll through City Market. My mom bought some sweet corn from a vendor, and my sister bought some soap. We ate dinner downtown, shopped at Rockford Art Deli, and generally had a great time. Not a week later both my mom and sister asked me to go back to City Market and stock up on some more corn and soap for them!
My family and friends, who are all in Michigan, CA, or the suburbs, have never known that Rockford suffers from an image problem because I don’t focus on that. I refuse to! This place has too much going for it to be lost in the negativity.
I love Rockford. I love that you can be downtown in less than 15 minutes, I love the “big city, small town feel”, I love the history, the culture, and all the things there are to do and ways to get involved. I love this place, believe in it, and am honored, excited, and humbled to be a part of this great city’s transformation! I AM Rockford Proud!