A New England Childhood is crafted against the seasons, particularly Winter. I cannot imagine that many other children could become what we became; we lived one or two generations and often only a few miles from the warm drift of the Gulf Stream, which slides up the Eastern seaboard gently carrying warm water touching against The Cape out to the Great Banks. At the same time, in the same place, a bitter cold North Atlantic rill drops straight down the coast to Boston Harbor. These are as two rivers within the Atlantic, literally flowing in opposite directions. Imagine these great "rivers" side by side describing a metaphorical "river bank" where cold water and colder air meets warm and water. It's an interesting phenomena.
The fish seem to like it, hence the New England long-line fishing industry. George Clooney, bad accent and all, died stupidly in the movie, "A Perfect Storm" when one of our more famous Nor'Easters scuppered his boat. Once in a while the infamous "Nor'easter" (winds are named whence they came): cold arctic air slamming head-on into the wet, rainy Gulf Stream culminates into a whipping, driving two to five day event best witnessed from on shore. Ask George Clooney. New England can be a place of odd contradictions. Meteorologic ally, it's a place of contradictions, a place of kinesics.
A true Nor'easter is rare; conditions have to be just so for a real bomb to hit. New Englanders remember these unnamed storms for decades.
The period childhood was like one of these rare storms: the warm and gentle '70's were slammed by the bitter '60's ; I was 10 years old in 1969. If there were ever a place less prepared, more ill-suited for this cultural perfect storm, I don't know of it.
The cultural storm hit and like a big Nor'eastern pushed inland and kept going, pushing hard against the firmament of our culture, our parents and the Church, who were the flinty, quirky New Englanders of the past. Most of them were twenty miles and one generation from the city. In their minds, they had fought hard to build a quiet suburban life for their families, far from the city, a safe place for all. Our parents were hard people and although the place did ultimately change, every inch of change was fought over. I know; I was there.
I hope to build upon this start. I loved my childhood and deeply regret that my children did not experience what may have been the last time of streets teeming with children who knew that our home, New England, was unique and would become, as a birthright, our own.
What remained after the storm blew-out was a vague image of what New England had been. My memory has held fast to that strange time of my youth; I wish New England had survived the storm. Or, maybe it did and I was too busy passing from childhood to adulthood to notice that the place of my youth hasn't changed instead I have. I don't think so. Yeah, life's hard; but it's harder when your stupid. The olde place is gone. I know. I watched it pass.
Welcome to New England, now go home.