Every evening at precisely 5:01 I crawl into my coffin. This shields me from the spates of gunfire, and to be honest, I might as well. When the actuaries, bankers, lawyers, and IT professionals hit the on-ramps, the entire city loses its raison d’être. My coffin protects me from the tumbleweeds that blow through here.
The truth: if you are creative and the least bit sociable, there’s plenty to do. At times, I feel like there is too much to do.
Living here is different from being a visitor. I admit that places like New York City, Boston, and Chicago all have their own charms. I’d love to have Fenway in walking distance or to have a Tiffany’s downtown (having one inside of a mall in a neighboring town does not count). Being able to do something vastly different from one night to the next has appeal; it also dents the wallet. I cannot afford that kind of lifestyle.
It’s my theory that Americans conflate pop culture representations of a place with reality. In Hartford, I can still participate in many of the same types of cultural events that I could in the Big City, but those things can not be my entire existence. Even if Hartford was New York City or Boston, those idealized versions of the Big City are not exactly obtainable for real people anyway.
I am looking through my planner at notes over the past month, seeing what I have done with my time. I’m posting this here for skeptics. I have only listed events/experiences that have happened in Hartford and am not listing work-related events:
1/13 Health Care rally downtown
1/17 Go to Barça and Shag Frenzy with friends
1/18 See Loins of Punjab Presents at RAW
1/19 Wadsworth for MLK Jr. Day
1/20 Inauguration Party in Barry Square
1/23 Friend’s birthday at Barça
1/25 Meet with friends in Asylum Hill
1/29 Meet with other friends in Asylum Hill
1/30 Poetry reading at La Paloma Sabanera
2/5 Charter Revision meeting
2/6 Wood-N-Tap with friend
2/8 Meet with friends in Asylum Hill
2/10 Attend lecture at University of Hartford
2/14 Coyote Flaco with friend
2/16 WECA Housing Committee meeting
2/17 Gathering at the Red Rock in Frog Hollow
Only one of those happened during normal business hours, if you exclude the Inauguration and MLK Day, as those are holidays that some have/insist on, but others might not have off from work. I also frequently forget to write things in my planner, so it’s safe to assume there are two or three other activities that never got recorded. (Maybe I blogged about these things. That’s what archives are for, I suppose. ) I have two jobs and work seven days a week. This is not a bad life. It’s not boring. I definitely do not feel restricted to a M-F 9-5 life.
If anything, I feel restricted by time and money. I am independent (read: pays own bills) and I love my work, so even if I magically won a trillion dollars somehow, I would not give up what I do to pay said bills (maybe cut back on hours or take the summers off, but definitely not quit). There are plenty of events and invitations for me to decline because of this. Then there is the cost. I can not afford to attend every single play, art opening, live music show, musical, symphony performance, sporting event, charity ball, dance recital, etc., that happens. There are places where I receive free or reduced admission for whatever reason, but that is not every place in town. Even with limits on my time and budget, I am able to occupy my leisure time sufficiently.
But that’s just me.
I hear this critique often, that Hartford is a ghost town, that it dies when white-collar workers leave, that there’s simply nothing to do here besides go to bars. I have trouble understanding where this critique is coming from, which I guess is what I am attempting to figure out through self-indulgent blogging. What I have found is that if you know people in any given location, and those people rock, then you don’t need to rely on paid entertainment.