Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where I'm From..."It's Complicated"

You know, on Facebook, the relationship setting "It's Complicated"? I generally see people use it for comic effect. A few use it as an earnest description of their situation. I'm not sure exactly why, when you can choose to not list a relationship status entirely. Whatever.

"It's Complicated" is an apt description of where I'm "from" though. I generally describe myself as "from" Kansas City. My father was born and raised here. My mother was born and raised just about an hour north of here. I lived in the Kansas City metro (or in Atchison, the aforementioned hometown of my mom) from infancy until nursery school, then again from first grade to second grade and then from ninth grade until now (with seven years of college and law school thrown in there somewhere).

Most of my family is here in Kansas City. Even when my family lived elsewhere during my childhood, we visited Kansas City. My childhood summer memories are of the Kansas City Zoo and Worlds of Fun and the Plaza and Brookside. I know every part of town inside and out. I've lived and/or worked in every metro county.

Kansas City is my home and my history. And I am thankful it is.

But here's the catch: I have another "hometown" where I lived for nursery school, kindergarten and second grade (well, half of it) through most of ninth grade. And it feels like home too. In fact, it's a lot more "homey" than Johnson County.

I miss it and crave it sometimes. I came across some photos of my hometown, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, today. I'm sharing them with you for old times' sake.

The public library where I learned to love books and got my first library card. It had a metal plate with my raised library number on it and a special sleeve to keep it safe. The original library was enlarged at some point when I was in elementary school. It used to be just the part of the building to the far left of this picture.

The library is just down the street from this, the Congregational Church where I went to nursery school. It was built in 1808. And is awesome.

Newer and uglier is St. James Church, the church where I received First Communion and listened to the Saturday Mass folk group sing "One Tin Soldier" for a long time. It was just down the street from our second house. (The interior has been slightly remodeled since I was there.)

The exterior of St. James Church.

This is the Episcopal Church. Almost everyone in town was Catholic. My next-door neighbors went to the Congregational Church for a while. I can recall two kids in my class that went to this church. I knew one Jewish girl. Everyone else? Catholic. (Mostly Italian-Catholic) Anyway, I took tap in their community room when I was pre-K.

This is the ferry. It is the oldest continually-running ferry in the United States. There are several bridges now that make the ferry really just a fun activity now as opposed to a transportation need. Runs across the river to Glastonbury.

Parts of town date back to the 1700's. Houses are preserved.

And treasured. As opposed to here, where old means bad and most things get torn down and replaced as they age. It's a horrible shame. The history in Rocky Hill (and the east coast in general) is a beautiful thing.

The population there now is about 19,000. I think it was more like 16,000 when I was growing up there. The school district boundaries were the town boundaries. There were two (and a half) elementary schools, one junior high and one high school. The town rallied behind the high school soccer and basketball teams (no football). It was small-town living and it was really, really great.

I think Kansas City is a great place. I'm so happy that my children have the benefit of our schools and all of the other things this city offers for families. I love how affordable life is here.

But I am sad that my kids won't get that small town upbringing. It's something special. And not complicated.


  1. I was JUST telling someone about the ferry the other day! He was like, "um, why does anyone use it if it's slow and there are better routes?" He clearly didn't understand...

  2. I loved looking through those photos. I miss Rocky Hill.
    I too have always referred to Kansas City as my home town and tell people that this is where I'm from. However, really, I've lived on the east coast for 21 of my 34 years(nine in Rocky Hill, 12 in NYC) I have been much more influenced by the east coast than KC. But, home is where your family is, therefore, home is KC.

  3. If you are this sentimental at your age ---- it will be frightening what the next 20 years will be like for you. ----- Or is this just some ole holiday magic working on you?? We will miss seeing our family over the holidays :( We will be there in spirit and 1/2 of the clan will be there in person. Hugs from Flordia