It Feels so Right to be Here With You
I know I’ve fallen behind this week. I’ve been busy, still trying to get settled in to an entirely new town, and I’ve had a of lack of ideas, if that all makes sense. Like, alright, I could talk more about mental health or sexual assault. Cool. Not like that’s the only thing I’ve been doing with my blog or anything.
Then I stared thinking: I just moved to a town with a population in the hundreds, and I haven’t been talking about it. This place is quirky, full of old people, and bosses who have no problem with employees showing up high. Growing up in a big city (relatively), it’s actually such a switch in mentality for me, and I can’t help but be caught up in the silly little things that define this town: Nakusp.
So to make up for this week, today and for the rest of the weekend, I’ll publish a post a day about the silly little things that make up small towns.
The first thing on my list of quirks, and what we’re going to be talking about today, is the fact that no one has last names here. Or first times, on occasion, depending on how long you’ve been in the community. Born and raised here, you’re a local. Everyone else is an outsider. Anyway, people here aren’t referred to by their names, but rather, their occupation, most recent physical ailment, or nationality. And, if they have no claim to fame in town yet, they’re simply referred to by their location or relation to other people that are known. So far, since arriving, I’ve met the Electronics Guy, the Lady From Japan, and the Man Whose Wife Just Died. On top of that, I’ve heard about the Lady Who does Acting, the Lady Who Moved Into The City Because She’s Too Old, The Lady Who Does Art, The Man Who Carves, the Electronic Guy’s Girlfriend, and the Chef Who Just Bought The Pig Cafe. Out of all those people, I only know three actual names. Two of which are because they’re my employers, and one simply because I had an interview with him and he’s a good looking man and I pay attention when someone’s name is Tyler.
At the moment, I’m pretty sure my only label is the Pink Haired Girl At The Tech Shop. Either that or The Granddaughter Of The Eccentric Old Guy Who Does Everyone’s Gardening. I guess it’s interesting because the whole town is almost like a high school or organization, and in order to be accepted into it, you not only have had to be a member for a long time, but you need to have a place to fit into. Of course, the easiest way of doing this is to grow up here, have relatives from here, or start a business. That’s what my boss did, after all, and he’s doing pretty darn well for himself considering he hasn’t quite been here for a year yet.
Well, this time around. Turns out he was a previous owner of our precious little cabin in the middle of nowhere. So that’s cool.
Anyway, the place is so full of cliques and groups that I’ve found it ridiculously hard to meet people here. Everyone seems wary of me. Like, I’m not joking. There’s this one cafe on the main street corner, and you can usually find groups of old people sitting around in the afternoon, sipping coffee, and chatting. I kid you not: every single time I walk by them, they stare. Every freaking time. And it’s not just a you’ve-got-pink-hair look, but rather, a what-the-the-hell-are-you-doing-in-our-town look. It makes me laugh, honestly.
It gets worse.
At work, if I’m not there alone, people will literally walk right past me, not even acknowledge me at all, and talk to the guy standing a far ways behind me because they know him. Doesn’t matter if I’m right in front of them and say hi, the majority of them simply ignore me. The amount of people I’ve had come in looking for the ‘Electronics Guy’ only to leave when they find out I’m the only one in store at the moment would shock you. And no, that wasn’t meant to be click bait.
I went to this really small school in grade ten. I’m talking about the fact that there were ninety people in it, including staff. And it included kindergarten to grade twelve. So yeah, it was small. Anyway, I found the exact same thing there too – everyone had a reputation that they couldn’t get out of, a substitute name listing their occupation rather than who they actually were. It really ticked me off, because no one seemed capable of understanding that I was more than what they boxed me into.
It’s the same thing here. If you don’t have a designated position or name, you’re on the outs. I was actually surprised today when I told someone I had just moved to town, and they replied with “Welcome to Nakusp! I hope we see a lot more of you.” Out of all the people I’ve told, they’re the only ones who’ve cared. And I’m quite open about it too – telling people that I just moved here and am looking to get to know folks. But ninety-five percent of the time they nod, go quiet, and leave with the intention of never speaking to me again.
Needless to say, I’m glad I’ve got a great boss and coworker (it’s a small town guys you only need two employees okay) who I can fit in well with, and start to get to know others from there. And I hope I get my designated name soon, because it would be nice to not be looked past all the time.
I know I look like a city kid tourist, but that’s bound to change when I’m trudging downtown in five feet of snow, right?