Saturday, August 26, 2006

Colloquialisms

I call the long sandwiches with many meats grinders.

I call the little ant-like toppings for ice cream shots.

I call the fizzy brown stuff Coke (even when it isn't).

I call that event wherein I put all my junk in the front yard and sell it a tag sale.

I call the shoes I wear while exercising sneakers.

I call the place where I buy (a lot of) alcohol the package store.

I call getting there a packy run.

I measure distance in the time it takes to arrive.

I am a child of Connecticut, that expensive, boring state that separates New York City from Boston. It's a nice place to visit your grandparents, but you wouldn't want to live there. It's got some cities, some country, and a lot of suburbs. It has the "highest per capita income" in the country, but all the big heads are down Fairfield County way. We pay for it up here, though, on the eastern side--where the United States Supreme Court decided a house is not your home; where the mills shut down years ago; where the remaining factory makes potato chips in the enormous Fry-Daddy that is my town.

It is important to me to infuse my writing with a sense of place, though Connecticut often loses me. In the South, voices are alternatingly lilting and thick with the heat of history. The West Coast writers are on the edge, pushing discovery and polished individuality. In the big cities across the country, fast-paced talents take leaps that make you hold your breath in anticipation of the landing.

But here...I don't know. We watch the network news and think the anchors sound just like us. We think they could be us. Watching, reporting. Telling the truth as it was always meant to be told. Sometimes I think we lack passion. We lack kindness. Sometimes I think there are no stories behind our facts. We are stony New Englanders removed from the hot center.

Connecticut is where I come from, like it or not. Even if I move away, my tone is set.

10 comments:

Mrs. Chicky said...

I love when you write about where you're from. It's like taking a peak into my own mind, if my own thoughts were as organized and eloquent as your's. Easter Connecticut, North Central Mass, it's very much the same the places you and I come from. Very similar but just a touch different. I hope you continue to search for your regional voice.

Mother said...

I'm from not too far away from you. But the ice cream things? Jimmies. And the tag sale - garage sale.

And liquor store. :)

Lauren said...

You call soda "soda" and not pop.

You don't say ya'll.

My grandfather (in Mississippi) always wonders why I say "you guys". He likes to make fun of that at every opportunity.

Heather said...

First time here and thought this post was interesting. I'm in MN, a place ripe with weird colloquialisms. We say things like "I'm going to the store, do you want to go with?" (With what? Who? HUH?)

My best college friend and I used to purposely call pop, "soda" because it seemed to bug people.

We had a lot of time on our hands back then.

Mom101 said...

You are definitely a New Englander, lady! Although I thought Jimmies was the term for...er, sprinkles.

Oh and I stand on line. Guess where I'm from.

lildb said...

localized voice is an interesting animal. it can be a strong added character within a piece, if done right.

you always do it right.

wordgirl said...

This piece has a real Carl Sandburg feel to it. Quite visual...and lovely at that.

Chris said...

Hilarious video about life in CT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTU2He2BIc0

Binkytown said...

The package store and a packy run? Those are brand new to me. I like them.

Where I am from water fountains are bubblers..

Melissa said...

jimmies are sprinkles to me (a born and raised CT resident.)

Tag sale = yard sale