Welcome, Stranger Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor?
– The thing is, I’m the stranger.
– You ARE! So Gus, how are you going to “blend” in once you get your house and you live there?
– I have managed that in the past by simply taking my time and sticking to myself for the most part. The thing is, you put yourself out there too much and you will rub people the wrong way without even trying. The best thing is to just do your own thing and wait until something that pertains to you comes by. I don’t do a lot of the things most people do. I don’t go to church, I am not married, I don’t have kids or grandkids. I don’t watch any sports, football, in particular brings people together. People tend to think that when you DON’T do what they do that you 1) look down on them for doing it, or, 2) they think you don’t know any better and they try to convert you. I don’t look down on anyone and I’m very unlikely to be converted to something I’ve examined and rejected. It usually takes a while for people to understand that whatever they do is fine by me, but I don’t want to join them. This is especially true of church, I’m afraid. And, this move I won’t be (immediately? ever?) working at a job so I won’t be meeting people there. I’m going to be a pretty solitary soul for a while in my new town and that’s OK.
– Won’t you be lonely?
– Yeah, I will be, sometimes, but it’s OK. I’ve waited a long time for the chance to paint and write — even just to take a real walk. Maybe just walking will ultimately restore my ability to hike; I don’t know. Walking dogs is a good way to meet people. I’ll finally be able to do the things I need to do for me…well, I don’t want to write about all that. While all that’s going on, I’ll get a feel for the town.
– But you’re from California. You know how people in Colorado feel about California!
– I know. The thing is, I’m not “from” California.
– To these people you will be.
– I know. I’ve already experienced some of that even with people I know. I’ll admit, it annoys me. Until someone has lived in California, they have NO idea what it’s really like. People have their “ideas” about it and that’s it. The reality is far different. Like my real estate agent/friend. She harps on about anti-freeze and oil and doesn’t listen when I say, “I know. I’ve been living in a place that gets into the teens in winter.” She just answers, “There’s no winter in California.”
– She really said that?
– Yeah. I’m sure she knows better, but in my case she just thinks “San Diego” and… Yeah.
– More to the point, I spent thirty years in California. I’ve spent the other thirty-two in Colorado and Nebraska. OH well…
– California is easy street, right? All oranges and movie stars and sex on the beach.
– No one’s going to believe you’re moving to the San Luis Valley because life in California was too hard and too expensive.
– What are you going to do about that?
– Get a Colorado drivers license, new plates for my car — maybe a new car — and fade into the woodwork with my brushes, my paint, my lap top. Otherwise, I have to set up my life here — unpack — breathe. It will just take time.