Early in their marriage, there was an opportunity for Alex and Jennifer Adema to relocate to Washington, D.C. But they decided to make Western New York their permanent home and raise a family here.
The Ademas have four children: Amelia, 9; Josephine, 7; Vera, 5; and Emmett, 3.
“I always say that if people complain about Buffalo, they aren’t doing it right,” Jennifer said.
She appreciates the diverse opportunities available around Buffalo.
Both Jennifer and Alex lived elsewhere after high school. Alex, 38, studied at Colorado College, and the former Jennifer Andrews, 37, attended Liberty University in Virginia.
Back home, Alex earned an executive MBA from the University at Buffalo, and Jennifer earned a graduate certificate in Health Care Administration from D’Youville College.
But repeated pestering by Alex’s former college roommate altered their plans. He had founded DPS, a company based out of Salt Lake City that manufactured downhill skis. Alex was comfortable in his job with Launch NY. Yet his friend suggested the Ademas should visit Utah and consider relocating there so they could work together.
Names: Alex and Jennifer Adema
High schools: Alex, Williamsville South, class of 1996; Jennifer, Clarence, class of 1996
Western New York involvement: Restoration Church in Amherst, swim lessons, soccer camps, lacrosse
Current home: Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City
Miss about Buffalo: Family, friends, church, good pizza, great coffee, food selections
Love about Utah: Outdoor life, skiing, snowshoeing, beauty of mountains
"We went there to check out the area,” Jennifer said. “It was nice, but we said thanks but no thanks. A year later, the offer was made again. We thought that life doesn’t always offer opportunities more than once. As much as we love Buffalo, we want our kids to see us take calculated risks.”
Their house in Lancaster sold in two days for more than the asking price. Perhaps that was a sign.
“It was a little bit of a shock,” Jennifer said. “Next thing I knew, the six of us were on a plane. That was July 28, 2015. We had a connecting flight through Baltimore, and there were silent tears on the plane.”
Alex became the chief operating officer of DPS. The family discovered a different life in Utah and quickly embraced the opportunities out west.
“We moved from one best kept secret in America to another,” Jennifer said.
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She had worried about being an outsider in a tightly knit community where generations had grown up together. Instead, she found other families relocating from jobs in Texas and California.
“We’re not the only newbies here,” she said. “We’ve made friends and are figuring out Utah together.”
Yet the Ademas do miss home. Amelia, their 9-year-old, probably had the hardest adjustment being away from friends and her former school, Christian Central Academy in Williamsville. But she uses FaceTime and writes letters to remain in touch. The kids have blossomed, Jennifer said, and her husband has a healthy balance between work and family.
“We’re both skiers,” she said. “And the girls are part of a ski club where they have Friday afternoons off from school. Alex skis with them often. I fell in love with snowshoeing. I put my little guy on my back and trek through the mountains. Every day, my breath was taken away by the beauty of it.”
But being away from family and friends is hard. The Ademas miss Buffalo and have not ruled out a possible return sometime in the future. Jennifer calls it “a bad Utah day” when she craves a decent slice of pizza but can’t find it.
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“There is no equivalent to Spot Coffee here,” she said. “When we visit home in July, I’ll probably stop at Picasso’s on the way out of the airport.”
Still, the “good Utah days” are frequent. There have been times during hikes when she has spotted a moose or badger, and those moments seem far removed from Western New York. Much has changed in the past year.
On a weekday morning in June, Jennifer woke early to practice yoga in her front yard. Despite the warmth, winter snow remains visible in higher elevations of the Wasatch Mountains.
“I watched this crazy pink and purple sunrise over the mountains," she said. "I always knew that Buffalo was more than wings and weather, and I never complained about the winters. Now, I don’t complain about summer heat.”
If you or anyone you know has a story to tell about moving back or to Buffalo, or about moving away, email JeffSchober@hotmail.com
Jeff Schober is the author of "Bike Path Rapist," "Growing Up Gronk" and several works of fiction. His newest crime novel, "Faces and Fingertips," is available now. Visit his website at www.jeffschober.com.