Tuesday, July 27, 2010

*Outlander: person from outlying or remote area. Often used by hillbillies, as well as "flatlanders" depending on the direction from whence the flatlanders/outlanders came

I'm an outlander. Or flatlander. Actually I'm not sure. When I'm called an 'outlander' or outsider or a yankee (a completely incorrect term because I'm from California not one of the northern states) or a foreigner, I really don't take the time to ask for an explanation of any of the terms they use here to describe me.

Today, at least so far today, I haven't been called any of the above terms, but I did get thrown under 'outsider' blanket. Granted, my name wasn't used. The author of the article in the local newspaper (written by a well known, well respected 'local' historian and school teacher) didn't direct her article toward me, but her words were meant for those of us who haven't "lived here all my life."

Here's the rule. You can live here 10 years (I have) or 20 years (almost), owned a home here (I've owned three), paid taxes here (I've contributed my fair share), been 'neighborly' (I know them all by first and last name and they've all graciously accepted my baked goods), shopped locally (when I can find what I need, otherwise it's the internet), become a board member of a non-profit (yep, me again, a women's shelter), owned a local business (that would be Tom), BUT you are not and will never be considered a local or 'one of them' if your grandfather, father and you weren't born here.

The article to which I refer wasn't even about "outlanders." The article was a about the weather, the heat specifically, but, you know, she (that born-here-local historian and school teacher of our children, some of whom are 'local', some transplanted from elsewhere - not a very comforting thought) could have used language that was less exclusive and segregating...and, well, arrogant.

But her language reflects the mind-set of a significant portion of the 'local' population here ~ you know, the one's who were born here, grew up here and lay claim to everything and will only begrudgingly share as little as possible with 'outsiders' like me when forced to do so. Quite frankly, it's a lot like the racism that still exists here ~ but that's another post all it's own.

I was born and raised in California, but my parents and grandparents were born in other parts of the U.S. and migrated to California. Tom's maternal grandparents were born in another country and immigrated to the U.S. and his paternal grandparents and his parents were born in other parts of the U.S. as well, but his family moved to California when he was about 2-years old. Back in the day, everyone was from somewhere else with unique cultural influences to share, but we were all Californians. No one would ever dare to differentiate between 'locals' and 'outlanders', 'flatlanders', northerners, easterners or southerners. Everyone was welcome. Everyone was chasing the same American dream. Everyone was friendly (well, except good ole Leo, the guy who lived in the condo next door who tried to keep every kid in the neighborhood off "his grass"). If you moved to California, settled in, got a job or went to school, you were, from that moment on, a Californian no matter where you originated.

So what's my point? I don't really know except to say, I'm really tired of it. I've been tired of it for a very long time. And I'm ready to go home. Except that 'home' doesn't necessarily have to be California because I would bet that where ever we ultimately reside, I won't ever be referred to as an 'outsider' again.


Lora said...

OHHH Terri, really don't take it personally. In the town we live in, if your family has not been here for generations you are not part of "The Old Establishment". Even though I was born in a hospital here and spent the first 17 years 21 miles away--and now been here for 44 years--I'm still not a "Old Rustonite". I have learned to not take it personal & enjoy those around me that do accept me for who I am. It's not my problem-it's theirs.

Terri said...

Lora, I know you are right. I've been taking things a little too personally lately. But, still, I'm anxious to move soon.

Rickey said...

Terri, my beloved cousin...Think about this seriously. Do you REALLY WANT TO BE CONSIDERED a inlander, local, terminal, etc???? Think about what you are asking! Boils down to "Do you REALLY want to fit in Arkansas?" You have all of your teeth. You know that Williams-Sonoma is not some sort of them there writer types....You understand that Grits are and aways will be Cream of Wheat!! They say ignorance is bliss....well most everyone there seems really, really happy now don't they? I love the state for a visit but I REALLY like just visiting....good barbaque though :)

Terri said...

Leave it to my beloved cousin to put this in REAL perspective for me! And for the barbecue...well are you talking barbecue, as in smoking for hours on end, or are you talking grillin', as in cooked on top of what we Californians call a 'barbeque' over hot coals or gas. You must be specific here. They won't know what the hell you're talking about!