A Stranger in My Own Country

I had the pleasure of taking a road trip to Belfast, Maine, yesterday with my brother.  He was giving a book talk at Beyond the Sea Books, part of the Belfast Bound Book Festival.  We had a wonderful time and the fact that there are SIX independent book stores in Belfast, Maine, was encouraging; I plan to visit Belfast again on a quiet autumn Thursday.

Following the book event, we made our way to the Three Tides for a bite to eat.  We chatted about Belfast, books, and festivals and got our Moxie on for the ride home.  As we were leaving, I overheard some folks from away talking about being from “hee yah.”  (That’s Maine-speak for being from “here.”)

“The people ‘hee yah’ say you’re not from ‘hee yah’ unless your great grandfathah was born ‘hee yah.’”

It was an excellent rendition of Maine-speak; humorist Gary Crocker would have been proud.

According to the overheard information, I am not from ‘hee yah’ and by virtue of my great grandfathah’s birth, I will never be from ‘hee yah!’  I was shocked and saddened.

I am a stranger in my own country.

I may not be able to change where my great-grandfathah was born, but given my love for my adopted country of Maine, I have created a simple list of things I do when I am “hee yah” in hopes of being a welcome immigrant to my adopted country.

  • No parking signs mean “no parking.”  Sometimes it means “we will tow.”  When I park my car, I observe these signs.  I try to avoid getting a parking ticket.
  • When I get a parking ticket, I pay it immediately.
  • I practice sidewalk courtesy; I make sure my bags don’t bump some small child’s head.
  • I study maps before I get to where I’m going and I try not to appear to be from away.
  • I respect the private property of people who live “hee yah.”
  • I try to be patient with the people from “hee yah” who are working hard in little businesses.  I realize I am not at Nordstrom and in fact I am in a better place where everything is not urgent.
  • I don’t stand in the middle of the road, stopping traffic, to take a picture which is available to me in postcard form in that little shop over “they yah.”
  • On the rare occasion when I might appear to be a jerk and accidentally cut someone off in traffic, I remember to give an apologetic and thankful wave.

How do you fit into the local landscape when you are not in your country?

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