I grew up in the village of Manomet, Massachusetts in a neighborhood near Churchill Landing.
Also known as “Plymouth” for people in other parts of Mass.
Also known as “Y’know the Pilgrims? Plymouth? No?”
This is usually when the arm map comes out.
“Okay, Boston then?” usually settles it for those in other parts of the country or abroad. (But you cannot say you’re from the Cape. People from the one, the only “the Cape” will think and possibly say angry things if you tell anybody Plymouth is part of Cape Cod. You can, however, make fun of their Cape Cod Canal Tunnel bumper sticker permits).
When I first brought my husband, Roberto, to Manomet in 2013, he took me literally when I said I lived “close to Boston.” Dad picked my family up from Logan Airport at around midnight that night and began the drive south. He drove and drove and drove. Roberto and I had met at UMass Amherst in 2003, but he had only ever seen where I had lived in Western Mass. He didn’t know too much about Eastern Mass other than Boston and that the ocean water here is always horrifyingly cold. He grew up in Lima, Perú. For those who don’t know, Lima is really frickin’ huge. It’s like New York City but in Spanish. So for him, he was excited to be “close to Boston,” close to a city. He kept asking about the subway and how close was the subway and when were we going to take the subway.
When Dad drove through the south end of Boston, past the whale building and the former Boston Gas tank with the Rainbow Swash painting, Roberto asked me how much longer.
“Mmm, it’s a while.”
“But I thought you said it was close to…”
Dad drove and drove and drove some more. As Dad turned onto the M road almost an hour later, Roberto looked around, eyes glazed. We cut through the Pine Hills and downtown Manomet, and Roberto said, “Wow.” He kept repeating that. “Wow. It’s so small!” and “Wow. What did you do here?”
Thinking back, I remember eating toxic combos of candy a lot—Nerds and Andes Crème De Menthe chocolates from CVS featured prominently.
I remember Muppets-themed cookies from Rose & Vicki’s. I remember a lot of going to Rose and Vicki’s. Mom and Dad would buy us soda and steak and cheese subs and drive to the Manomet Point lookout at the Lobster Pound, and we’d eat there and watch the seals. I also bought raspberry turnovers, back when the jam had a swoon-worthy thicker consistency, and I’d ride my bike over to Rabbit Pond and eat them before dinner so my mom wouldn’t know.
I always said I wanted one on my deathbed, along with a Strawberry Julius. My guess is I’ll be on my death bed due to a sugar-induced coma.
Seeing my home base through Roberto’s eyes got me thinking about the ways I was uniquely Manometian. My childhood home was once a very green summer house for an Irish family. Half of my neighborhood arrived at the end of June and left mid-August. Manomet in the 1980s was a corner of Plymouth for vacationers. This was a near-barren alien landscape for Roberto. I was used to seasonal people; year-rounders who stayed through the winter were either New England tough or just dumb. He grew up in a densely packed South American city. He grew up in a period of active terrorism in Lima. (Roberto would like me to tell you that Lima is totally different now. There hasn’t been terrorism for decades. It is one of the most cosmopolitan, creative, and hip culinary centers of the globe. Vamos! Watch this funny Peruvian tourism video! ) In the 1970s and ‘80s though, there were curfews, lines for food, and power outages. His door was always locked, and there were always candles at the ready. His family also stored cans of evaporated milk then and still uses them on a regular basis now, not just for making pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but for daily coffee and dinner dishes, like aji de gallina, a spicy chicken dish, which is as cheesy and like-a-hug as macaroni and cheese.
Moving away to Florida in 2011 was the first time I had really begun to look at people in terms of their regional clump. What regional clump are you from? What’s unique about it? How did growing up there shape you?