Last winter at my 10-year high school class reunion, in jest, an old friend referred to me as a "townie." It was one of those moments in life when you feel your reality slow down, while your brain desperately tries to wrap itself around some startling concept. The facts timidly lined up and started to spill across my consciousness.
It was 10 years later and I still lived in Meriden. I had just planned and executed this very reunion at the bar I now worked for in Meriden. On my keychain were various savings club cards from chain stores in Meriden. I had a dog, a life, and a home in Meriden.
Was I a townie?
"Townie" according to urbandictionary.com (Just for a moment pretend that urbandictionary.com is a scholarly reference), "is a term used by students who have gone to a new city for school to describe the natives of that town. It is often seen as derogatory by those who use it, but townies themselves often embrace it as a badge of honor."
'Man, there are so many townies at this party.'
'So, where are you from?'
'Oh, I'm a townie.'
After the initial shock wore off and my bruised ego recovered I started wondering what it would mean to me if I was in fact a "townie." I thought about my friends who have long since fled Meriden for college and settled elsewhere. I considered my sister, who is the epitome of a modern-day metropolitan woman; living in Boston, then Atlanta and now Manhattan. Leaving town after high school was expected and often envied by the people left behind. Leaving town is a sign of success and the catalyst to many an 80s teen movie.
Yet here I was, a single girl about to be 30, face-to-face with her townie status and about to admit some long-held-in truth.
I love Meriden. There, it's been said. Hello, my name is Lisa and I love my town! (Now you all say "Hi Lisa!").
For the last few years, without realizing it, I have made my life here in Meriden meaningful by actually becoming part of the town that raised me. Slowly, I started to join organizations, attend cultural events, become active in town politics, and enjoy the budding downtown social and cultural scene. (I swear there is one!) I joined the YMCA, I take the dog to Hubbard Park every week, I get bummed when Les' closes for the season, and I still love the mall (which will always be "The Meriden Square" in my head).
Guess what happened? I started to feel good. I am happy here in the 'Den and I want to write about it. I look forward to exploiting my "townie" status and plan to wax poetic weekly about the things going on here and the things that I love. I will be the Girl About Town; wave to me if you see me.