A little over 22 years ago, I was born, seven weeks premature, at Cheshire Medical Center. I spent the next month or so growing stronger in the Dartmouth-Hitchcock NICU in Lebanon.
When I finally came home to my parents’ condo in Swanzey, my mom said all of the trees around Central Square bloomed for the occasion. I was home.
I went to Mount Caesar, then Wheelock Elementary School, Keene Middle School and Keene High. Saturday, I became the fifth person in my family to graduate from Keene State College.
My grandfather Bob Silk was a police officer in the Monadnock Region and later managed the Cheshire Fairgrounds until his retirement. My mother, Mandi, was Miss Cheshire County 1985 and the senior class president of Keene High’s Class of ’86. Both of my paternal grandparents, Sara and Clyde, were Keene State professors and even my dad, Scott, won a few basketball accolades at Westmoreland Elementary … a feat he is still quite proud of. And until she passed last month at the age of 105, my great-grandmother Elsie was Keene’s oldest resident.
I couldn’t be any more “from here” if I tried.
And in a couple months, I’m leaving the state. I’ll probably never move back.
Recent legislative sessions, especially the approval last year of House Bill 1264 and last week’s vetoing of Senate Bill 1, is the tip of the iceberg. Between Gov. Sununu’s anti-college student and anti-young family policies, Internet trolls dedicated to calling my fellow KSC students and I every name in the book (including “Abby Shep-turd” — really?), and not being able to get through a shift at my job in a local business on Main Street without being blamed for “the riots,” it’s clear that I’m not welcome anymore.
I’m devastated. I always pictured raising my kids here, getting married at St. Bernard’s Church, where I was christened and received my First Communion.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing left for me in the Granite State except minimum-wage jobs, out-of-touch government and outdated attitudes.
State Sen. Kahn, whom I respect greatly, wants to prevent the “brain drain” of smart, hard-working young adults. He’s right: New Hampshire’s rate of high school graduates attending college out of state is more than twice the national average.
But I’m not going to stay where I’m not welcome. This lifelong, fourth-generation Blackbird, Owl and proud progressive has better places to be.
120 Emerald St., No. 202A