Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My confusing love affair with Massachusetts

Massachusetts is a special, special place. Now, I may be a native New Englander but growing up in Connecticut I did not often find a reason to venture to our northern borders. Sure, there was the occasional Six Flags New England trip, the Steubenville conference in Attleboro each summer during high school, and once and a while our cousins would allow us to invade their house for a day or two. But I never really WENT to Massachusetts. Like, really EXPERIENCED this state.

I'd heard tales... tales about these people, our northern neighbors. Called Massholes by some and Baaaahhhhstonians by others. They ALL wear red sox hats every day and they can't say their "r"s and the use the F word in every sentence and they drive with their middle finger up and ready to use at a moments notice. AND NEVER GO TO SOUTHIE. And they are ALL Irish. Which is cool, because I am 1/4 Irish too.

But these things were all folklore as far as I was concerned. The few people I had met from Massachusetts seemed... normal? But maybe they had a shrine to Big Pappi in the Cah they Pahked in Hahvahd Yahd at which they sacrificed poor unwitting Yankees fan hoping to break the Curse of the Bambino. I couldn't be sure. All I knew was my friend Blair told me that all the roads turned to dirt after the border because Massachusetts sucked and Connecticut ruled. And Blair would NEVER lie.

In late spring 2008 Kyle and I were living in Texas when I got a job offer for a youth ministry position in a tiny town south of Worcester and quickly accepted. Massachusetts was close to home and to my family and from my experience in college that I knew I would fit in better in any part of fast paced New England than I ever would in the south. In the years that had passed since high school I had realized that there were a lot of reasons I could like Massachusetts. They drove fast... I drove fast! They liked the Celtics and Patriots.... I liked the Celtics and Patriots! They drank beer.... I drank beer! We would be so very happy there!

I mean, there were a few irreconcilable differences. For instance, October 2004... I still hold that it never happened and should never be mentioned again. Also, I am a registered Republican.

And so we left Texas and headed north. Now, I may have lived in Worcester county for two and a half years but as anyone in Massachusetts will tell you, that doesn't count. My REAL Massachusetts experience began in Metro West, right around when the Bruins were cruising to the Stanley Cup. Living in Worcester county was confusing. When I was home, I hated it. When I drove closer to the city, I was in love. So pretty! So much to do!

Now that we've lived in Metro West for almost a year I've learned something. Massachusetts and I... well, we just work. Massachusetts is like that friend you've had forever who always acts like a complete idiot and you laugh and roll your eyes, act like you have no idea who they are and then wonder why you are still friends. Yet there you are, always kickin it with them because you know you'd miss all the hilarity if you were gone. Let me give you an example.

The other day I was at the bank trying to deposit a check in the drive up ATM. Someone two cars ahead of me was taking too long so the car in front of me started to leave. As they pulled out the car at the ATM did as well. Well, wouldn't you know it Mr Impatient stopped his car blocking the exit to the back, got out, and started cursing out the person who had taken so long at the ATM. Only in Massachusetts.

And after I got over the fear and decided dialing 911 would only escalate the problem I just had to laugh to myself. Only in Massachusetts would Harvard students protest the rich with Ipads in hand. Only in Massachusetts would the signs along the highway reminding people not to drunk drive be changed to memorial signs after Ted Kennedy died. Only in Massachusetts would you get flicked off by an old lady for taking too long loading your double stroller and kids into the car. And yet I love it here.

Those aren't the reasons I love it here. To understand, you'd really have to walk around Boston and see the historic sites of the Revolutionary war, drive around the hills in the fall when the leaves change color, prayed in the gorgeous and historic Catholic churches, seen the patriotism shown on the anniversary of 9/11, and just experience the passion of Boston sports fans... the real ones... not the pink hats. (And I mean, I HATE the red sox.) Maybe it's because my family has been here since the early 1600s. Maybe it's because I think America RULES! Maybe it's because I grew up in Connecticut, a place actually quite similar, and realize that for every mean person there are 50 kind and decent ones.

Whatever it is, unless you experience these things first hand you will have no idea what Massachusetts is all about and you might be like my former self. You'll buy the stereotypes. Some of them are true but still, it's a great place to live and I love it.

But seriously, stay out of Southie.

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