WOOPHILIA – An Essay by Rebecca Haze
October 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
by Rebecca Haze
A few weeks back, I was Facebook-chatting a prominent Worcesterite. We had initially met at The Poets’ Asylum a few months back. (He had gotten up and read. I had not.) We became Facebook friends, but not really real-life friends. I submitted a surreal and poorly edited short story to his zine, and he rejected it. A few weeks later I saw a flyer advertising the premier of his zombie film, but I decided not to go because I was in denial about the fact that my story sucked and was therefore irritated with him. Anyway, he had gotten in touch with me because he had seen my online writing portfolio, had been impressed, and wanted another submission for the zine.
We talked about my writing. We talked about his writing. We talked about my ambition. We talked about his adventures on another continent. Mostly, though, we talked about our love affair(s) with Worcester. His take on the city was not identical to my take on the city, but it was equally affectionate. His city was not quite my city. My city was not quite his city. We were talking about the same city. It was like being involved in a love triangle where the core participant has a personality disorder. You know, in the best way possible.
And out of this triangle, a term was born: woophilia.
I said, “That sounds like a blood disease.” He said, “It is. A love for Worcester runs in the blood.”
Memory fails me as to whether or not I told him, on the digital spot, just how precisely he had hit the mark.
Worcester is one of those hidden-gem cities. Worcester is the Portland to Boston’s Seattle, the Brooklyn to Boston’s Manhattan, and the Oakland to Boston’s San Francisco. (Or, heaven forbid, Los Angeles.) It may be defined as relative to Boston – whenever I’m out of town, people ask me how far north/south/east/west I am of Harvard University – but the lucky few who are familiar with it know just how unique it is.
Clark University has one of the best psychology programs in the country. The Bean Counter is the only coffee shop I know of that serves red velvet cheesecake. Beatnik’s and The Palladium are amazing. And don’t even get me started (pun intended) on our various art-related festivities.
My ongoing presence in Worcester is an utter coincidence. In the early nineties, my mother had two job offers: one in Texas, and one in Worcester. My dad would not consider living in Texas, especially in view of the fact that they were planning on having me. (Note: we’re Jewish, so my dad’s bias is not entirely unreasonable. Growing up Jewish in Texas would have done a number on my mental health.) So, Worcester it was. Worcester it has been for the past sixteen years.
And because of a tiny blip in my mother’s career, a love for this place does indeed run in my blood.
Rebecca Haze has been writing professionally since she was fifteen years old. Her work regularly appears on Art Faccia, The Nervous Breakdown, and in Specter Magazine. May she one day be the person her editors seem to think she is.
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