Home again, home again.
Moving back home has given me the chance to explore the places where I grew up with new eyes. Outside of the obvious places to visit like Yale University and Mystic Seaport, Connecticut is home to beautiful natural landscapes and hikes, adorable (and delicious) locally-owned restaurants, and a few remaining quintessential New England Towns.
Honestly, though, when I first moved home I was a bit discouraged. I was so happy to be closer to the people I care about most for a while, but I didn’t think I would be able to indulge my wanderlust. America, and especially New England, isn’t as easy to traverse on a budget. There are very few hostels in the states, and public transportation is not great outside of cities. Besides, Connecticut isn’t exactly at the top of many dream destination lists.
And then I paused. Back when I was living in Galway I got a job at a deli. When I was offered the position, the manager asked if I would be willing to start working in a small town outside the city center. I said sure – I just wanted to be making some money. I ended up in Clarinbridge, a regular old Irish town. There was a river and some walking trails, a town green surrounded by a few antique stores, and not much else.
During the first few weeks, so many of the staff were confused how I ended up there. Everyone else was basically a local. There were a few high school girls finishing their exams, a few older women from the area, and a couple twenty-somethings just making a little money. None of them could understand why a random American girl was working in Clarinbridge of all places. Customers often looked surprised when I asked them for their order because of my accent.
To them, Clarinbridge was normal. Small town Ireland was nothing special. For me it was nice to see a little slice of life in a new place. The hostel I lived in was full of people from all over the world, so I had very few Irish friends before I started my job. Getting out of the Galway bubble was refreshing. There are so many sides to any place we visit.
Imagine any crazy popular tourist attraction around the world. Perfect photos of people holding up the tower of Pisa crop out enormous crowds. The Mona Lisa is really tiny. Tourist cities like Dubrovnik don’t represent life in the rural towns of Croatia. Having the chance to see a new side of Ireland was intriguing for me.
By that argument, who was I to sell my home state short? That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy. So I did my research. I found Connecticut blogs talking about travel and lifestyle, I asked my mom about her favorite places, and I finally invested in a good tripod for my camera. Armed with my trusty high school DSLR and keys to the family pickup truck, I decided to get out and explore the state I love.
So here we are. I still want to travel the world and see all the wonderful things out in the great beyond, but I’m happy to take time to try and get to know my own neck of the woods a little better. I’m looking forward to becoming a hometown tourist, but I think the experience has already taught me an excellent lesson in perspective. And if I can find a few ways for other people to see new sides of Connecticut without spending a fortune, all the better.