Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Connecticutian

Friend: You have your New Englanders, your Bostonians, your New Yorkers… What do you call someone from Connecticut?
Me: A Connecticutian!
Friend: Uh, that sounds like “execution.”
Me: Well, I’m not a big fan of Connecticutter.

Ah, the Constitution State! The Nutmeg State! The home of the river actually pronounced “Thames” and not “Temms”! A recent e-mail conversation with Jen awakened my deep-rooted love for the little state people drive through to get to Boston or the Cape. I love New England in its entirety, but the second-smallest state (take that, Rhode Island!) will always be special to me.

When I first came down to this mid-Atlantic area to go to college, I amused people by telling them that I was from “the eastern part of Connecticut.” They ogled me for a second before asking incredulously, “Connecticut has parts?” Um, yeah. Like how Delaware has northern and southern parts, Connecticut has eastern and western halves. At least we have eight counties to your three! What now?

I’m not normally so defensive about this. Well, now that I think about it, I am. I just think that Connecticut is a neglected gem of New England and it doesn’t deserve all of the little-state ridicule heaped upon it. I’ve always found myself in a position of explanation of my home state because people always assumed that my family was rich. No, not all of us live in Greenwich. But we have Mystic Pizza, you know. And Yale University. And the UConn Huskies, even if they didn’t make the tournament this year. And Rachael Ray visited us one time to spend $40.

I feel like my corner of Pennsylvania is noticeably different from Connecticut, but it’s hard for me to put my finger on it. At first, I thought it was the Revolutionary history I grew up with: the Charter Oak and Fort Griswold and all that. When someone reminded me about a little thing called the Liberty Bell and some guy named Ben Franklin, I realized that the Philadelphia near me wasn’t just in my history books. Then, I thought it was due to a more generally flat landscape, but I ended up working in the Poconos for a couple of summers, so that theory went out the door. I’m still not sure what it is, but I can feel a change when I get to Connecticut.

Maybe it’s the crisp air, rocky coastlines, and lighthouses. Maybe it’s the worn-down, green faces of those soothing Appalachians. Maybe it’s town greens, white churches with sharp steeples, and the smell of the Long Island Sound. Maybe it’s wearing fall clothes as soon as school starts, scraping snow off of cars in November, and welcoming spring after Easter. I don’t know what it is, but I find it all so comforting.

Of course, I could be a little bitter because I can hardly find a good cup of clam chowder around here. I’m just saying.

#1

3 comments:

alyndabear said...

I'm feeling very ignorant because I really don't know much about Connecticut at all. Wait, did I spell it right? Connecticut? Yes? No? It looks wrong.

I love accents though. What's yours like?

janet said...

I feel the same way whenever I go home (except for totally different reasons). I swear there is something instinctual about it...like deep down something in you just knows it is home.

jen said...

fort griswold!!! i hadn't thought about fort griswold in years! speaking of which, i thought of you the other day when an article in my alumni magazine mentioned the El 'n' Gee club, another new london landmark. when i was in college your crappy college band had really made it big if it played there... considering that it was pretty much the only place off-campus place for bands to play!

as for what to call ourselves, i like "nutmeggers" myself. although i never had much reason to refer to people from connecticut until i moved away, so i never really needed a word.

that reminds how i just found out this year that there is such a thing as "new haven style" pizza. it was always just "pizza" to me -- i just thought everyone else was making it wrong! (unless of course they labelled THEIR style as different, like chicago deep dish.) i had no idea until a "new haven style" pizza place opened here in dc.

i also didn't know that connecticut is the second smallest state. it didn't really feel that small compared to the other surrounding states. i guess my upbringing was pretty connecticut-centric. although being from southern connecticut (yes non-nutmeggers, there is also a "southern connecticut"!) we did have a sort of dual identity as part of the "tri-state area." (which is new york, new jersey, and connecticut of course -- i also just found out this year that apparently there are other tri-state areas in the country and not everyone knows that CT, NY, and NJ are "the" tri-state area.)

i could go on forever about connecticut but i'll shut up now except to say that i agree that it's a oft-misunderstood and underappreciated state. yay connecticut!