17 Things You Learn Growing Up In New England

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1. You will acclimate to seafood.

It may be chowdah, or lobstah, or mahm’s baked cahd, but you’ll experience a baked sea dweller, that’ll tickle your fancy enough that suddenly, driving past the hahbuh isn’t such a nauseating sensation for your nasal passages. You will try clam cakes, and stuffies—fry, bake, sautee, dip, mess with that seafood, until it works for you. If you shut out seafood, you aren’t actually living. Or you’re a vegetarian, to which I salute you and acknowledge that you’re probably from Cambridge, Burlington, Providence, or Portland.

2. A world without the relative proximity of oceans is hardly a world at all.

Sure, you’re from the far back sticks of Western Massachusetts, or some landlocked region of Connecticut (that’s still a state, right?), but at the end of the day, there’s still a tremendous body of water, separated merely by a few hours of driving.

3. There is vibrancy in youth, there is maturity in youth, there is immaturity in youth.

You most likely live near a college or university, if not multiple colleges and universities. College life will have a solid grip on your life before you can even walk on your two feet—they will teach you the basics of the alphabet, introduce you to your first cartoon Mom wouldn’t let you watch. They will teach you how to kick and scoop against waves of water (see #2), and how to form sentences in front of boys/girls. You will spend the next few years idolizing their carefree stumbles down the infinite runway of asphalt. You will emulate them, idolize them, find yourself in them, envy them, loathe them, scoff at their petty immaturity, discard that image you once held so holy, become your own person.

4. International cuisine is awesome.

I made the shoutout to seafood earlier, but there are tons of food cities here. If you’re just eating burgers and fries at your local Applebees every weekend, you’re literally not living right. Now go treat yourself to some pad thai and teeter outside your comfort zone and start living like you were born and raised in the finest hub of culture on the goddamn East Coast.

5. Your blind allegiance to the Red Sox can (and most likely will) be questioned.

What do you mean, New Hampshire is too small for a team of their own? Does Maine really count as Boston? The Rhode Island Reds were definitely a team in like 1776? Do I even know how baseball works?

6. Boston is New England, but New England is not Boston.

Territorial pride is a thing, and borderline animalistic defense of it isn’t all that bad of a thing. Cue the Massachusetts kids “from Boston,” who when you ask where they’re really from, will spill the embarrassing beans, they’re actually from Worcester, an hour out, it takes two T-rides to get into the city, it all becomes relative as you scoot an hour or two out of that actually relevant perimeter. I guess at the end, relative to the rest of the US, we’re all from Boston. Even you, Maine. Lest you forget, there’s a zillion other cool cities in New England too, and you will learn to appreciate them all and adore them for their quirks. Some ignoramuses from the far-flung West Coast (sorry guys) will continue to assume that New England is one giant clump of Boston, but you’ll understand that we’re a collage of six distinctly spirited states of their own.

7. The L.L. Bean factory is overrated and overpriced but everything else about Freeport is cool I guess, if you’re into commercial retail.

Which there’s a ton of in New Hampshire and Maine, which your mom will get really excited about when you go on family road trips, which you’ve almost definitely experienced if you grew up here, which you’ll certainly loathe when you round the corner on Hampton Beach for the first time in over a decade, and realize it’s not as classy as it looked when you were six years old.

8. It’s really as rabidly liberal as they say.

For every tidal wave of University Democrats/Progressives/Liberals/Greens/Protest Group, there’s a republican or two, waving their lonely flags in the student union. They’re probably from New Hampshire, living free or dying. Progressive culture is almost ubiquitous in some regions, we’ve all got that one Republican friend, who we just try to hush down while we get our daily Jon Stewart fix.

9. The accent exists, and it is hahhhhrible.

A bastardization of the New York accent, some say, perhaps butchered English is just an East Coast specialty. The Italian soccer moms from Rhode Island have it. The beer-guzzling boys from Southie have it. Shit, if you’re mad, no matter where you’re from, except maybe Connecticut (which I still deem to be New York’s rejected cousin and not an actual part of New England), you’ll probably drop your R’s a little.

10. Dunkin’ Donuts is most likely your drug of choice.

Unless you’re from Vermont, in which I say, if Breaking Bad makes a comeback, maybe they can film in Burly. You will eventually realize that Dunks is merely just subpar coffee saturated in enough syrup and heavy cream that it’s actually a confectionary treat. Don’t tell yourself that when you order a Medium Iced Extra Extra, though. Just don’t order a black coffee either, fuh the luvva gahd.

11. Caring is creepy, and friendliness from strangers is horrifying

And if they are, be wary of them. They probably have fangs, probably spew venom, maybe have a white van full of candy, perhaps are linked to the illuminati, maybe they work for the KGB or something.  Everyone’s frigid, nasty, cold, and unfriendly in the streets—we’re New England, and random acts of kindness are downright horrifying.

12. Not caring is creepy — once those cold stranger interactions pass, the connections you make with people are damn strong ones.

After all, who else, other than other New Englanders, can you talk about your craving for Del’s Frozen Lemonade with?

13. Snow is a feeble enemy, easy to defeat.

There will be snow. You have slipped, you have fallen, you have bruised, you have bought snowboots, you have shoveled, you have invested in a snowblower, snow plow, even the feeble efforts of ambitious middle school children armed with shovels. You’ve done it all, and you, not the snow, have triumphed. Most of the time.

14. The things they don’t tell you about New England are the most prevalent.

The poverty, the economic disparity, the concentrated enclaves of diversity and the otherwise whitewashed regions, they’re all there, and under-recognized. New England, on a national scale, is generally just whittled down to picturesque images of the bay, some boats, maybe a nice field and mountain or two. It’s really a whole lot more complex than that. It’s booming with virtually everybody, and these everybodies are what keep the area alive.

15. There are concrete stereotypes for every state.

They may or may not apply to you. They may or may not even be remotely applicable to anyone. Figure that our for yourself, regardless of anything I’ve written.

16. If you’re in college, you’ll probably go vegetarian/vegan/macrobiotic/paleo/raw diet at some point in your four years

And abandon ship at the 3am intoxicated whiff of Wings Over [your town]. I mean, it happens to the worst of us.

17. Ladies, men, marsupials alike; you will probably all be charmed by Tom Brady at some point in your existence.

Even if football players aren’t your type. It’ll just happen, so accept it, and move on. It’s in your blood, you’re from New England. TC mark

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