Dear New England,
It’s so strange being back with you. We parted ways for a while last September. It was a little hard, but not unbearable. I mostly missed your bright autumn colors and your stone walls.
Your stone walls were something I’d forgotten till I returned, but I fell in love with them again. I’m not sure which ones delight me the most: the ones that are so neat and tidy, it’s like a photograph taken from a fairy tale or the ones that are crumbling and uneven, covered in rampant English ivy. It is so picturesque to see them dividing plots of land like a line of stitches in a quilt. One of my favorite things in the world is to drive alongside you, looking at the shadows you cast on the grass.
When I think about it, ours is a love hate relationship. I fight being here, but every once in a while I love you. I love your autumn, your first snow. To be honest, I like every snow you create, but only for a few hours. Once the sparkle is gone and the slush rushes into the streets like an invading army, I resume my hatred.
But just when I think I can’t dislike you more, I recall fond memories of your nights. Always with friends. A chilly July night in Sharon, Vermont, perched atop a hill huddling together for warmth while whispering as we gazed up at the stars. Watching the sun set on Lake Pocotopaug here in East Hampton, making the canvas of sailboats seem like transcendant gauze as the last kisses of sunlight streamed through. Silent nights in the Berkshires, surrounded by young girls who lie shoulder to shoulder as they listen for voices across a tiny lake to sing them to sleep.
So many spots around where I live you cannot clearly see the stars. I hate that. I am grounded by them, yet embraced by them, and you are stingy with them. The only guardian that I can see is Orion, and he stands vigilantly alone. But sometimes they burst from your skies with surprising clarity. I’m enraptured and can hardly tear my eyes away from your velvety expanse. Don’t think that it makes everything better though.
I’m still having issues transitioning back from the South – a place where people smile when they see you, wave even if they don’t know you, and ask after your day and stop to listen. Few in Connecticut stop to say hello, let alone to “rockawhile” (verb, to sit with friends and rock for a time while taking part in conversation). I find it terribly sad.
I’ve spent the last months trying to figure you out. You’re this strange mix of tradition and progression. Family is the keystone, yet work seems to be what you do best. And who needs neighbors when you have trees? Because obviously, maple syrup is more touching than a plate of cookies. Also, is it true? Do you have a caffeine IV? A straight coffee drip into your veins? Because Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are telling me that.
Michael Buble’s song Home is on right now. I wonder absently if that’s what you are any more. You welcome me briefly, then thrust me back to the person I once was. You don’t do well with change, do you? I laugh, because you’re a democratic region. I don’t think I’ll ever understand you.
Being back for a few days makes me feel like I’ve been here forever. You have that talent – making people feel as if they’ve been here forever, when in reality they’ve just arrived. It’s the most ironic thing in the world. You live fast paced, but it feels like Tuck Everlasting sometimes. Like the wheel is turning, but we’re stationary.
But we’ll see. Maybe this summer we’ll come to a compromise. You try to impress me, I’ll try to impress you. Perhaps we’ll come to some sort of agreement as to what you are to me.