Becoming a Local

It’s fair week here in town again. This was our 12th year being here for the fair. This time around, Tomas didn’t come with us. He was off at a Franklin Fiddlers practice during the evening, so the stars just didn’t align. The girls had a great time eating fair food and riding rides, as usual. (They also cleaned up in the competitions again. DC won over $30 in prizes, winning multiple first places in arts & crafts and flower arrangement.)

Of course, there’s only so much I can blog about the same event over and over. (I mean, I *could* blog about it over and over, but it’s the same experience year after year, and that’s not quite as fun when you’re not the one actually eating the fresh cut fries and the donuts.)

Instead, I thought I’d remark on a strange feeling I had last night as we were talking to the parents of one of DC’s friends. Suddenly I found myself in the position of having been to the fair many more times than who I was speaking with.

Not that I haven’t been in that situation before, but it’s almost always been in cases where I’m introducing someone to the fair. This felt different. I was talking to just another local, and I’d lived in town almost three times as long as they had. That’s not a usual feeling for me. Growing up, I was seldom in an area longer than a couple of years. Even in high school (the last place we moved), I was there for just five years before heading off to college. Once in college, I was always moving areas, so it never felt like I was one of the long-term residents.

Not that I really feel like one here, either. Maine is very big on making distinctions between locals (people born and raised in Maine) and people “from away.” If you moved here from somewhere else, you’re always going to be “from away.” I think that’s something that other places have largely given up on just because so many people move around elsewhere. Here in Maine, there are many people whose entire families just stay put.

So I’m often reminded I’m from away, and not really a Mainer. But personally, living somewhere for 11 years is the longest I’ve lived in one spot. Twice as long, really. It was a noticeably strange feeling to suddenly realize I’d been here that long.

I liked it.

I like having been around long enough that I saw lots of people I recognized at the fair. Long enough that when a problem comes up, I know multiple people I can turn to for specialized help in solving it.

I’m sure many of you have years of experience being one of the locals, but it’s still new to me. How long do you personally feel like you need to live in a place before you feel like you’re a local to that area? I still don’t feel entirely like a local (and doubt I ever will), but I at least feel more local than some, if that makes sense.

How about you?


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