The Connecticut River
New Hampshire and New York both claimed the Abenaki territory that is now called Vermont, a dispute that led to land disputes between the European settlers living here. Some thought they owned land in New York, others in New Hampshire. This caused problems when Vermont was an independent nation prior to becoming the fourteenth state in 1791. The border dispute between Vermont and New Hampshire continued for over a century and a half, until a 1934 US Supreme Court decision set the boundary between the two states at the low-water line on the west side of the Connecticut River.
This history is of great personal interest. I was born in New York, I live in Vermont, and I’m married to a man from New Hampshire. For thirty-eight years, we’ve been learning to negotiate our boundaries.
During the baby rearing years, which for us came fast and furious with three children in as many years, I certainly felt as if my side of the river was under water. In fairness to Tim, he’d tell you my resentment at what I perceived as his freedom to advance his career while all I could do was advance the laundry was as effective in holding back affection as impounding water behind a dam. But we also had summer days when we’d put those kids in a canoe and paddle upriver until we found a good spot for a picnic and a swim.
As the kids grew up and independent, so did we, taking up different sports. Tim learned to kayak in white water on New Hampshire’s steep streams. I took up rowing on the Connecticut in a single scull. We each taught the other our boating skills, but on the water Tim craves risk and excitement while I seek balance and peace. We allow ourselves these differences within interests that are similar but not the same, just as the shapes of Vermont and New Hampshire are similar, but different.
My husband is wider at the shoulders, more like the shape of New Hampshire, which is wider up north. I’m wider in the south – like the state of Vermont. Like New Hampshire’s White Mountains, my granite state spouse is taller than Vermont’s shorter, rounder, Greens. And while I would say that he’s somewhat more conservative than I am, we’ve both changed over thirty-eight years.
Having plunged into this river of marriage, we’re committed to run its entire length. We’ve already encouraged one another to dive into our passions despite fear, and to swim against strong currents when necessary. By now, we’ve taken turns rescuing each other from drowning in discouragement, grief and despair. And if we’re lucky, we’ll float together out to sea.