In influential New York Magazine, Annie Lowrey publishes her article "What's The Matter with Connecticut?" Here you can read that insightful deep dive into the erosion of Brand Connecticut.
When I had first moved to Fairfield County, Connecticut from Washington D.C. Metro in 1982, the brand was both classy and cool. Perhaps a sign of that, there seemed to be more members of Alcoholics Anonymous in the tiny town of Greenwich than all of D.C.
When I left in April 2014, neighbors, long-time friends, and colleagues were seeing therapists, executive coaches, and psychics to get the strength to also flee.
What happened in those decades? Well, the economy heads the list. To earn decent money, whether you're in a job or a consultant like myself, you wound up having to go into Manhattan. Opportunity, piece by piece, vanished from the Nutmeg state. The whole enchilada of going into Manhattan to pitch to one prospect could run 100 bucks a pop.
As the economy stagnated, the price of everything, ranging from property tax to auto insurance, kept on an upward trajectory. After a 50% boost in that property tax in West Hartford, I sold my house in 2004. By time I was finished renting, the monthly nut was twice what I now pay in Tucson, Arizona in this complex with a pool and fitness center. My auto insurance with State Farm is also one-half.
Next on the list of what drives people either to drink or out of state is the careerism. "What do you do?" is the only matter on most people's minds. Here in Tucson, it was months before I found out that the man sitting next to me at a series of lectures was an estate-planning lawyer. And it was he who said, "I'm not very successful." His focus is more on getting the Roman Catholic Church to canonize as a saint a former missionary here in the Southwest.
The third problem was, well, the weather. There was Irene. Then there was Sandy. Worst of all was the Polar Vortex. Given the vestige of WASPY aloofness in Connecticut, no one seemed to give a damn about anyone else as we struggled in the snow, ice, and frigid temperatures.
Sure, there is plenty to be homesick for just a bit outside Connecticut. On weekends my dog Lee and I would go to Westerly, Rhode Island and hang around the Atlantic Ocean with non-WASPs. Jersey City, New Jersey is on the fast track to gentrification and it was fun to return to my hometown and gawk at the changes. I liked taking courses at the New School in downtown Manhattan.
But, overall - and it would take a therapist to answer this - I wonder why I didn't pack it in and hit the road when I sold my house. Those 9+ years were a phase of my career in which I didn't make a whole lot of money. I cowered in the face of the aggressive one-upmanship. And I ate my way through the winters.