From 1984 to 1987, my family lived in Newtown, Connecticut. My mom was working on her dissertation, so she was home all the time. My dad worked at General Foods in White Plains, NY, but he chose to have us live in Newtown, so that he could shield us from the hustle and bustle in New York and the surrounding suburbs. Newtown was quite, earnest and overwhelmingly white, which was a shock to my family's system, since we lived in Cleveland, Ohio before that.
We didn't live there very long, but there were some memorable moments. I skipped 3rd grade, which made me feel like the man for 30 seconds, before I realized that I was about to be socially inadequate--a condition I've yet to recover from to this day. I remember Newtown (and the whole state of Connecticut for that matter) was soccer crazy, and I fell for the sport hard. And I also remember how quiet and peaceful that town was, despite its lack of diversity. I made great friends there while playing soccer, and I was devastated when my dad told me in July of 1987, that we were moving from Connecticut to Potomac, Maryland. I cried and cried the day we got to DC.
The first couple of years after I left, I did my best to keep in touch with Newtown soccer and school friends, but after awhile, I got over them and embraced my new Maryland life. Facebook, that annoying, yet addictive site that apparently has the ability to reunite, allowed to me to re-connect with my old friends during the past few years. In fact one of my friends from back then, just so happens to live five blocks from me here in DC, which is very cool.
All of this makes last Friday's events feel very weird. Prior to Friday’s tragedy, when I told folks I lived in Newtown, I had to use Bruce Jenner (who went to high school in Newtown) as a reference point because people had no idea what or where Newtown was. Sadly, no one will ever wonder where or what it is again. Not only that, I've had to read Facebook status message from people I knew back then, who just can't believe their quaint, little town, has had its innocence ripped away so quickly and violently. It is depressing.
But I refuse to end on a depressing note, so here is a picture that was taken in the spring of 1984 in Newtown, CT, on the front lawn of our house back then. My brother and I in our soccer outfits, with our shorts pulled up as high as the law will allow you to pull them. I'm the taller one by the way...