For those of you who do not know me, I’ll the you a little secret about myself – I’m demophobic. It’s one of my only fears, that and of course the fears that comes along with being a parent; ketchup stains, malnutrition and the ability to live on ice cream alone.
Demophia is the fear of being in crowds or masses of people. With me, specifically it has to do with crowds in small places. I’m not claustrophobic by any means and I can stand before an audience of two thousand without a problem or go to a crowded county fair… But stick me on a crowded train, a crowded bus or even a crowded road with far too many cars and it’s all I can do to hold myself together.
Most definitely NOT the ideal fear when living in historic New England. I love the history, I love the culture and I even love the people. What I do not love, is the quantity of people. On top of this, there is the ‘crowd’ mentality of Massachusetts. I can drive through New York City (and have many times) and never experience the types of drivers (and commuters) that we have in Massachusetts. There is a term we have here; “Massholes” and it is so apt.
You can have a guy (or woman) who is the nicest, kindest person you’ve ever met. They will bend over backwards to help their fellow man, but place them behind a steering wheel or force them onto an escalator on the ‘T’ (what we call our transit system here) and it’s like watching Dr. Jekyll turn into Mr. Hyde. They mutate as their eyebrows furrow, their shoulders turn inward and they cannot fight the beast within forcing their middle collection of phalanges to extend itself toward whatever human may be in their way. Add to that, a spew of expletives that can only be described as the opening of a rotting, putrid sewer ejecting profanity at an extraordinary rate of speed and you have a classic Masshole. Something that only coffee can help keep at bay.
To this day, I attempt to explain to my friends and family that live outside of New England the level of stress that I (and many of us) feel when commuting into Boston each day, but they just flat out don’t get it. There is no way to explain to those who don’t live here, the stress that is involved in traveling such a short distance. It is completely normal for my commute of fifteen miles to take between an hour to two hours.
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
It’s hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
I’ll always remember you like a child, girl
~ Cat Stevens “Wild World”
Which moves us on to the final question that you are all asking yourself; “Why do you live there, if it’s such a pain?”
Ahhh… a question I have plagued myself with for nearly twenty years. I am a farm boy, despite the fact that I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, I spent nearly every weekend at our farm in Loudonville, Ohio and that is where my heart is, in the land, the soil, the trees and cicadas as I lay in the grass watching the clouds float by. Someday (soon perhaps) I will return to that peace that I yearn for so much. There are reasons that all of us have for sticking around here. My reasons are my children. They are in one of the best school systems in the country. There is theater, world class music, world class medicine, rich history and experiences that cannot be compared to anything else right here in our area. That doesn’t mean that my children can’t appreciate the love of nature and the farm. They go to my father’s farm several times a year and look forward to it regularly and there is an enormous weight that is lifted each time we drive out of the last “bury” in lower Connecticut.
Others in the area are here because they grew up here or because they fell in love here and lastly of course because the ocean is here. I too am drawn to the water, though my draw to water is more of the lake kind, being a mid-western transplant… but the ocean suits me fine – for now.
Until I can move however, I shall endure the commute from my micro-environment within my car, stay in my bubble on the train and shield myself from the massholes. Ahhh, coffee. What a wonderful invention.