A lot of towns are college towns, but few college towns are like New Haven.
Townies vs. Gownies. A prestigious, exclusive University surrounded (and supported by) those of us who have the grave misfortune of Not Attending Yale.
There is a chasm between us. The Yalies and… the others.
Yet should we be enemies? Are we not all human? If you prick us, do we not bleed? Sure, the average Yale student actually emits a thick, viscous fluid instead of blood, but otherwise, they have the same organs as the rest of us, plus the mandible.
B2R Writer and I guess also scientist Florian Carle asked me once:
“Why are local New Haven people so mean? It’s like they don’t even want to be friends.”
That’s right. We don’t.
Not with you, anyway.
Why Yalies Aren’t Good Friends
First, an admission: I am sure not all Yalies are not right-wing activist Supreme Court judges and CEOs of Blackstone or whatever. Some, I assume, are good people.
But here’s the thing: a lot of people at Yale are on a journey, and New Haven is a step on that journey.
This is not their home. This is a place they’re forced to live in to attend an elite university and move on to a bigger, cooler city. Probably the Bay Area or New York. Maybe even Boston for some reason?
Yalies Who Stay
There are, of course, some who stay. For a blessed few, they actually… like New Haven? They finish their degrees and stay???
Friends of the podcast and blog: Collab incubator co-founder Caroline Smith. Director of Parking Doug Hausladen. FitStyle Founder Shana Schneider.
They all came here through Yale and ended up falling in love with New Haven (my words). They started businesses or became deeply involved in the city and the community.
I love them all dearly. But also that’s like three people.
Chances are, if you’ve lived in New Haven long enough, you’ve experienced its transient nature. The coming and going. The people who you used to know.
The Enigmatic Appeal of Yale
I remember the first time I went on a date with a Yale (grad) student. I felt important. A person who got into Yale! And she’s interested in me!
Like, if you sleep with someone who got into Yale, you basically got into Yale, right?
Wow! Look at me! I am going places!
But it turns out, I am not going places. But she was. Back to Massachusetts, where she accomplished the next step of her plan.
The first of many who came and went.
One time I went on a date with a Yale grad student (who btw make up like 40% of the dateable New Haven population) and she spent the entire 45 minutes talking about how much better Richmond, Virginia is than New Haven, Connecticut.
Nothing turns me on more than finding out someone feels like they’re being held captive in my city.
You know. The one I’m blogging about.
Why Should I Commit Emotionally To Transient Friends?
I don’t want to be a stage in your life. I don’t want to be a story about how you lived in the mean streets of New Haven for a minute while you finished your PhD in Differential Religions.
It’s hard, when you’ve seen so many people come and go, to know who will be here today or tomorrow.
But when you care about your community, you tend to gravitate towards people who are… a part of that community. Who care about their community. Who want to make it a better place to live.
Not someone looking to put you on their resume.
Four years from now, many of you will be long gone. But me? I’ll still be here picking up all the trash in my yard from those pesky teenagers. Walking through Edgewood Park and waving to neighbors. Or uh awkwardly avoiding eye contact with neighbors okay???
If You Really Care
If you really want to be a part of New Haven, you’re gonna have to make an effort. Which means you need to leave the ever-growing footprint of Yale.
Get out there. Visit a non-Yale bar. Attend a Night Market, or Arts & Ideas. Go hang out in Elm City Games. Get a membership to MakeHaven. Go to the beach. Get a townie pregnant. Visit the local Planned Parenthood!
But me? I’ve been burned time and time again by people with the “Y” on their hat.
If you want to be treated differently, you’ll have to start by acting differently