I grew up in Bloomfield and always thought of Hartford as the “big city.”  When I came here in 1985 to attend TrinityCollege, I knew I had come a long way. And I had. Seriously. When I was growing up, Bloomfield was mostly farms. The hustle and bustle of Hartford uncovered the urban heart that had been beating in me all along.

While most of my friends left Hartford after graduation, I stayed. Sure, I had some short side-trips to AlbanyNY and Rapid CitySD, but who doesn’t? And really, what does it matter? I always came back to Hartford.

I’ve lived in 06106, 06114, 06105, 06103, and 06114 again, where I live now.

I own a house in a leafy, family-filled neighborhood. I’ve watched tons of kids grow up over the years. Dennis raps for me, and calls me tía. Brooke is learning English and has way more Hello Kitty stuff than I do. Beja learned to love dogs by petting Gracie, my straight-from-the-streets-of-Hartford mutt. Ricky is a polite young man, and a testament to his parents. When I ask him how he’s doing he says “Goodfineandyou?” Every. Single. Time.

I’m a five-minute walk to the famous First and Last Tavern which pulls the best pint of Guinness in Hartford; a quick bike ride to the Camp Field and Goodwin public library branches; a half-mile from beautiful Cedar Hill Cemetery; and within a stone’s throw of Goodwin and Hyland  parks.

And who can forget the ten minute stroll to Coyote Flaco? It’s my all-time favorite restaurant, where Patricio and Silvia know exactly what I want as soon as I walk in the door: Coyote Margarita and Enchilada Oaxaca please. Gracias.

And speaking of hops, skips, and jumps…that’s how far I am from my best friend Elizabeth. How many people can walk to their best friend’s house these days?

You know, maybe Hartford isn’t the “big city,” but it works a strange magic on me: with each person I meet, with each story I hear, with each neighborhood I come to love, it claims a bigger place in my heart.