Search This Blog

Monday, July 30, 2018

Who Belongs ?

Local crowd? All locals?
These past couple of days, I was really feeling like a stranger here. You forget about it for a while, but then a few things happen and people say things to you in a certain way, and it all adds up. You may be welcome here, but at the end of the day, you’re not part of this. You never have been and you never will be. 
Steve Hamilton, Die a Stranger (an Alex McKnight novel)
I’ve been thinking again lately about who belongs and who doesn’t, since I’m not “from here,” as we say, and tourists visiting my bookstore in the summer often ask me if I am. Sometimes they are looking for someone or something and wonder if I can give them directions or information; other times they’re merely curious. But no, I’m not “from here.” Born in South Dakota, raised in Illinois, long-time downstate and elsewhere resident until 25 years ago, I don’t have generations of county roots.

Steve Hamilton’s McKnight character, living in Paradise, Michigan, is in a similar position, having moved to the U.P. from Detroit. Do writers, I wonder, working in solitude as they do, relate naturally to solitary fictional characters? Maybe so, but that doesn’t explain the broad appeal to general readers of the outsider, the loner, the one who doesn’t quite fit in.

crowd moseying along
And so, I wonder, is that a feeling we all (or most of us) secretly harbor, the suspicion that we’re on the periphery, looking in? Or — another possibility — do we sometimes feel so surrounded, even crowded, by other people and demands that we like to fantasize ourselves as loners escaping from the crowd? 

Moon -- solitary and serene

Maybe even sometimes one, sometimes the other feeling?What do you think?
…The air was still almost warm. Then the wind picked up and as it hit my face it brought along an unmistakable message. It may be July, and it may feel like summer just got here, but the end is already on its way. The cold, the snow, the ice, the natural basic state of this place, it is right around the corner. 

And oh, yeah, there’s that, too.

Sarah's winter face

No comments: