Illustration by Tim Foley
As I stood in my stuffy new dorm room, the August heat caused a bead of sweat to drip down the back of my neck. While I enjoyed decorating my new space — placing twinkling fairy lights, pictures of family and friends, and posters with inspirational quotes on the walls — the room didn’t feel like mine yet. Through the open door, I could hear shouting as kids pushed parents out of rooms, saying quick goodbyes and giving brief hugs. “Have a great semester, sweetie!” and “Have fun, but not too much fun!” could be heard up and down the halls. With my own family’s goodbyes echoing in my head, reality began to set in that I was now officially a SUNY New Paltz freshman.
The first week passed in a blur. I remember nervously navigating the Lecture Center, wandering slowly, looking for room 112, desperately hoping I wouldn’t walk into the wrong class. But as I got to know my neighbors and reconnected with acquaintances from summer orientation, I began to feel more comfortable. As my schedule started to feel more routine and my room more familiar, I found New Paltz becoming a place I could call home.
During the weekends, my new friends and I would take well-earned breaks and venture into town. Laughter and shouts bounced off the buildings along Main Street as dozens of college students, freshmen and upperclassmen alike, walked through town excited about the weekend. The lights glowed a warm yellow and the smell of food wafted out of open windows, inviting us in with promises of delicious eats.
Noshi’s Coney Island, a small restaurant along Main Street in those days, was one of those eateries whose fried food scents would blow out into the street every time the door was opened. I ate there once with friends, but it unfortunately closed before we could give it another try. In true New Paltz fashion, a new restaurant took its place not long after Noshi’s closed: B-Side Grill quickly became so popular, I knew I had to give it a try.
Ever since it opened, B-Side was one of my favorite spots to eat with friends. For the rest of my college career, weekend brunches or late-night ice cream runs were always at B-Side. Inspired by rock & roll and 1950s aesthetics, this retro eatery continues to be my go-to place even after graduation. I often return with my boyfriend on weekends and order my favorite dish: chicken and waffles with chocolate chips.
As I sat in the pouring rain during graduation last May, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked back on my time at New Paltz. From writing essays late into the night to weekends where my friends and I explored town and the surrounding hiking areas, New Paltz gave me four years of adventure, a space to learn, and opportunity for growth. It was there I met lifelong friends and gained confidence and independence. While New Paltz has certainly changed since my freshman year, it feels as though each new restaurant along Main Street or building on campus has only added to its character, charm, and personality.
Allyson Macci is a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz and now works as a children’s reference librarian and freelance writer and photographer.