Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The More You Ignore Me

Due to family circumstances I had to spend the duration of Hurricane Irene at my parents', watching TV (shockingly, they were one of the small percentage of houses in their town which did not lose power) and wondering what was happening in New London. (NBC Connecticut kept showing this disturbing shot of crashing waves on the Thames.) My apartment is fine, and so is New London - nothing too terrible happened there. (Even if it had, if there's one thing New London has experience with it's being destroyed.)

When I wasn't watching NBC Connecticut, though, I was watching the major cable news channels and the local (i.e. NYC) channels that my parents get. And I noticed a certain, shall we say, lack of Connecticut in their reporting. Now, as a former New Yorker recovering New Yorker New Yorker in possibly permanent, self-imposed exile, I get that New Yorkers think New York is the center of the universe. I certainly thought that for decades, and in some ways still do.

But this went beyond that, because even outside of the focus on NY, when other states were acknowledged there was a pattern to it. It went something like this: "Irene made landfall in North Carolina and moved north through Virginia, Maryland and DC. It hit Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey before reaching New York. The city was spared the anticipated damage as the storm moved into New England, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Even New Hampshire, Maine, and Canada are expected to..." And at that point, though I'd heard the same thing approximately 37 times in the previous hour, I'd say, "Wait, what? Hellooooo!" At one point I told a friend that I thought Connecticut should change its motto to He Who Ignored Still Sustains. (How do you say "ignored" in Latin?)

Of course there's nothing novel about this. Even when I wouldn't have dreamed of living anywhere but New York, I was well aware that Connecticut was sort of the silent partner of the Tri-State Area. And in the past I've been responsible for engendering this kind of attitude in others. I've certainly said, when people from other states asked me what's in Connecticut, "Oh, not much." Not because that's true, but because I didn't want to explain it. Connecticut is small, but complicated. You can't just say, as you could with some states, "We have mountains!" and be done with it. Still it's just a bit annoying when you know that all around you, houses are collapsing into the surf and things are catching fire, but no one cares.

A few days after the storm, I guess I'd say I'm ambivalent about our invisible status. Maybe it's just something I haven't adjusted to yet. It's the kind of thing I could get fairly indignant over if I sat and thought about it for a while. But on the other hand there's something perversely pride-inducing about it. Letting the other states get all the attention but quietly knowing that at least we have more class. Just sitting here, unnoticed, as we have been for centuries, but doing fine. You know, sustaining.

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