I grew up in eastern Connecticut, which as a New Yorker, I refer to as “Rhode Island.” For those of you who know the geography and socioeconomic climate within the great (small) state of Connecticut, you know west is very different from east. Western CT is the rich suburban extension of New York City and Westchester County whereas Eastern CT is farmland dotted with moo cows and small coastal towns. It’s hard to explain this to people, so I just say I’m from Rhode Island, and since I was actually born in Providence, I don’t feel like I am fibbing.
As a young person in Eastern CT, I couldn’t wait to get out. I was an oboist and I followed the New York City musical theatre scene very closely; I knew I was meant to be in the city. I was somewhat ashamed of my blue-collar town, and I was convinced I was destined for bigger and better things. Trips up to Boston or any part of New England north of CT were boring to me… anything but New York City was boring to me. I couldn’t wait to graduate high school and establish myself in New York.
Upon my high school graduation in 2003, I traveled to upstate New York to attend Ithaca College. Although I was accepted to NYU’s Steinhardt School, Ithaca’s conservatory atmosphere seemed a better place to get my oboe career started. Needless to say, I didn’t become an oboist; within a year at Ithaca, I switched my major to history and put my instrument aside. It wasn’t until I got a job with Teach For America in 2007 that I moved to the big city. It’s now been 6 years since I moved here, and although I love it, I’ve surprised myself by seeking alternative living and professional arrangements.
In my last post, I noted that I’ll be teaching 8th grade in Newark this fall. I moved out to New Jersey a few months ago, and I bought a car. These changes have been exciting, but they’ve also resulted in an unprecedented amount of nostalgia for me. Am I “done” with the city? If so, where do I fit in? I never imagined there’d be a new scene for me after New York City… and Jersey was certainly NOT what I had in mind for myself. But it’s okay, and I’m liking it. It’s kind of like my New England home, but right next to New York. Baby steps back to the old me.
I’ve switched out my high heels for Sperry Topsiders. I have purchased 4 pairs of them this summer alone. My new clothing has a distinctly nautical theme, and I constantly beg my boyfriend to visit my friends and family in Eastern CT and Rhode Island. Last night, I spent several hours planning a trip to Newport and Block Island with a New York friend of mine, and I’m excited to show her my “roots.” Once a Yankee, always a Yankee.