When we first moved back to New London from the tony town of Glastonbury, I wasn’t sure it was a great move. I didn’t like the lack of privacy, of seeing people I knew everywhere I went, and of small yards and the sounds of sirens again. That changed when our daughter became sick with cancer and our community supported us. We never had to ask. Our lawn was mowed and our house was cleaned and friends I hadn’t seen since grade school left notes of encouragement in my mailbox. Neighbors that I didn’t really know showed up with food and prayers. I then remembered the value of the community of New London. And there was no place like home.
There has always been an underlying camaraderie among New Londoners. We are a bit scrappy and rough around the edges. Hearts of gold are under many of us. We fight with each other but mostly for one another. Most of us are from humble homes and backgrounds. Most of us know what it means to work hard, and we understand that it is a privilege to attend higher education. I honestly can’t name one person I knew growing up that ever had an attitude of entitlement and didn’t have to work for what they have. No one, no matter where they lived, thought that they were any better than anyone else. And if they did, we pretty much beat it out of them one way or the other.
To be a true New Londoner, you don’t have to be a native. Some of the truest in spirit have come from all sorts of places but love and embrace the community that makes this city. All of us New Londoner’s, natives and newcomers alike, have kept the spirit of the city alive in the wake of our consistently crazy headline news over the years. Even in the face of eminent domain, many were unbroken and unyielding. It seemed we could persevere through anything, even our own stupidity. We didn’t have much, but at least we had heart.
Sadly, I’m sorry to say, I’m starting to wonder if the heart of New London is slowly dying (and I’m feeling some chest pains myself). For the first time ever, I’ve heard language designed to divide the city. People are talking in terms of “this” and “that” end of town. I’ve heard the words “class warfare” and I’ve heard a lot of assumptions about what I must think given where I live and what I do for a living.
We are being divided by politics and economics. At a time when we most need to be brought together, our politicians are leading the divisive cries with their own rhetoric which seems intended to divide for political gain. Self interest is the driving force, not common good. We are too small of a city to withstand the force of division, economic or otherwise. Divided, New London will fall. This isn’t the New London I know and I can’t help but be sadden by it, particularly when I came back to contribute to my community by buying a home, owning a business, and raising a family right here in town. My contribution is neither wanted nor appreciated. I am just a tax dollar. I can be replaced.
As the mayor has said, to paraphrase, “anyone who doesn’t like it is free to go”. He is certainly correct and I may just do that, though my heart strings still pull me to stay. But whether I go or my neighbor does, every time a true New Londoner leaves, part of the heart ofNew London goes with them. There is no place like home, but I may just have to take it with me.