Monday, March 08, 2010
Where I live...the People I
This is where it gets interesting. Bear in mind that I'm going to be generalizing and stereotyping out the wazoo, so feel free to comment or question if you feel I'm not being fair.

The overriding dynamic amongst the people here can be found in small communities all around the globe, the locals vs. the "come heres." The locals would be better referred to as the natives. These are the people who were born here (or born in a hospital across the mountains and brought home here). They went to school here and have family here. Now, technically, they can go away to college and work for awhile, marry away from here, and come back and still be a local. It's all in having your roots here.

Come heres are the starry-eyed retirees, the back-to-nature hippies, the school teachers brought in to fill empty slots, the self-imposed exiles, people tired of the rat race, and those who are hiding out from their former lives. If your roots to the area go back too many generations and you were born and raised elsewhere, you may seem to gain acceptance with the locals, but you're really regarded as a come here.

Locals want progress, they want the big highway bull-dozed through the mountains. They want the McDonald's, the Food Lion, and the Rite Aid (forgot to mention there's no pharmacy here). They want to do what they want to do with their land. They want to trespass on yours as they please. They're suspicious of Richmond, and politicians and their promises. They're used to getting the short end of the stick here. Locals are not impressed with your fancy car, your designer label clothes, or your iPhone that doesn't work here anyway.

Come heres are usually enchanted with the beauty of the place. They want to freeze it in amber. Don't change a thing. They don't want the big highway to spoil the landscape and bring in more people. They want their peace and quiet. They want to protect the bats, the bald eagles, and the pristine beauty and crystal clarity of the water of the forks. No subdivisions, not in my back yard. No firing ranges, not in my back yard. No prison, not in my back yard.

The thing is that the come heres have no idea what they're up against. They arrive and dive into the community with enthusiasm, volunteering, meeting people, making friends, and contributing to the general welfare. They love the small community, where everyone knows everyone. The kindness and the accountability that comes from lack of anonymity. But they eventually begin to see the downside to small community living, the gossip, the cliques, the intransigence of the local governing body, and the vague feeling that there's an undercurrent in the community that they're just not understanding. Many come heres become so disillusioned that they leave. In my nearly seventeen years I've seen this happen many times. I've seen some good people come and go.

I'm more of a come here than a local, but I straddle the line a bit because I married into an established local family. I get to see both sides of the dynamic. I think I understand both sides of the dynamic. This area is a tough nut to crack. It's hard to really make friends with the locals. By the time you get here they've chosen up their teams, so to speak.

(M says that using the term "come here" brands me as a come here. He says they're "out-of-towners." He also said I could add to my list of arriving "out-of-towners" people who aren't fit to live anywhere else)