You Ain’t From These Parts

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.
– Absolutely.
– No one’s going to believe you’re moving to the San Luis Valley because life in California was too hard and too expensive.
– Nope.
– 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.

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12 thoughts on “You Ain’t From These Parts

  1. We have a saying that the people who know the most about Califronia have never been there or only been to Disneyland and Sunset Ave. I find Sunset Ave. weird myself and lived in California over 25 years. I have been told it does not snow in Califorina. Really? Then how did they have the 1960’s Winter Olympics there. Have you heard about the Donner party? I have to admit I miss the Ventura. I tell people you can go to the beach, snow and desert in one day. I miss really walking the beach. Anyways, you moved to a nice area. There is a new Amish community in the area of Monte Vista.

    • It’s true — one day in December we DID x-country ski in the Laguna mountains and then take friends to Coronado Beach in the afternoon. I don’t think most people realize how wild California is, either; I’ve hiked with coyotes and have seen a cougar and bobcats. OH well. I really like where I’ve moved. I feel it’s my reward for a lifetime of teaching. I get to have a great river, two very different mountain ranges, friends nearby and I’m close to Santa Fe. It’s everything I ever dreamed of. 🙂 ❤

  2. Your approach is PRECISELY the same as mine was when I moved here, and for all the same reasons. And after 12 years, I’m on happy chatting terms with everyone, no one knows much more about me than they did in the beginning, I don’t have a social life, and it’s all very, very good!

    • Like in Descanso — when I saw something to which I could contribute in a meaningful way, I did like donate paintings to be raffled to raise money for the historic Town Hall or donate clothes and bedding to a woman whose house burned down. I loved my Mexican neighbors and the horse very much — like family — but I don’t expect that to happen every day. Otherwise, I just won’t play. I’m in hell right now because the gladiola man asked me for dinner and I was so shocked and embarrassed I said Yes but then said I’d let him know. I am pretty sure he’s a grown up (our age) and I could probably just tell him what happened, and I will as soon as I figure that out.

  3. I feel for you Martha and understand your predicament. Although I have a partner, we are the odd balls where we live, which has its advantages, as we have the time to ourselves that is so vital to do what we want to do. I know you will find your niche. I hope the gladioli man will be understanding!

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