We all want to be part of a group, right?
It’s why high school athletes wear their letter jackets, fraternity kids have their Greek letters emblazoned across everything they own and why gang members show solidarity by the colors they wear or the tattoos they display. It’s why younger siblings tag along with the older kids and it’s the reason so many middle-aged men wear the jerseys of their favorite sports teams.
It’s all about inclusion, baby.
It’s a trend that follows us our whole lives, as we join clubs or organizations often as much for the camaraderie as anything else. There’s nothing wrong with this. Human beings are social creatures and, like all life forms, we often run in packs. We feel safe with others, and we enjoy the bonding that transpires between people of similar interests.
Since I first moved to the area in 1997, I’ve discovered that I didn’t really fit into a recognized group. I knew I wasn’t considered a local since I came here from outside the immediate area, and I knew I wasn’t a tourist because my tax bill told me I wasn’t. That kind of left me in an identification limbo. But all that changed last weekend, after a conversation with Susan Lyons.
Apparently, Susan got wind of a new term at her family reunion that was created specifically for me and many of you out there. We’re not locals, and we’re not exactly tourists, so that leaves us somewhere in between.
That’s right. We’re loc-ists.
Taken at face value, this obviously isn’t the most warm term in the world. It brings up images of a swarming mass swooping down on this pristine region and leaving a mess in its wake. Though one might consider it an insult, it just left me with a smile on my face.
I’m a loc-ist. I am somebody.
And I wasn’t alone. Susan’s husband, Andy, who has lived in this area for more than three decades, shared my enthusiasm for the new term. Bob Bertram, our clogs-clad graphic artist who changes his job title every week, also expressed some joy at being identified with a group that’s not on a federal watchlist, and Shaun Lambert — oh, Shaun’s just happy to get a mention this week that doesn’t include disparaging comments about Eskimos and baby seals or playing on a computer for 21 hours a day ...
But I digress.
My point is that this is a term we should all embrace. While I’m not trying to speak for all my fellow loc-ists out there, I can say that my own experience is that I selected this specific place in the world to live because I love it here. I love the beach, the people and the general way of life. I’ve done the big city thing for the majority of my life, and I’ve learned that there’s way more to life than chasing that corner office or being able to run over to Best Buy on my lunch break.
It’s not just the small-town charm that drew me here, either. I could have found that in Iowa or the hills in Pennsylvania or any other rural environment. There are numerous towns I encountered in California alone that have the pace of life I’ve grown to love, and I probably could have found a small town in Ireland that would have captivated my interest. But I moved here because I love it here.
And now I’m a full-fledged loc-ist.
Oh, the possibilities are endless for those of us fortunate enough to be included in this group. We could hold meetings and fundraisers, or get T-shirts printed with a fancy logo featuring a locust, a sand bucket and a carpet bag. There would be songs written about us, and it would only be a matter of time before we found ourselves recognized by the United Nations or any number of other reputable entities, like Wikipedia.
Well, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but I’m energized. There could be secret handshakes that every loc-ist would protect with pride, and maybe small tattoos we could get on our foreheads so we’re more easily recognizable to each other on the street.
Loc-ists of the world, unite!
Absurd? Maybe. But I’m a word guy, and I always find enthusiasm for new entries into our nomenclature — particularly when the word directly applies to me.
And, yes, my fellow loc-ists and I have been responsible for quite a bit of the change this community has seen over the years. We have caused new developments to be built and have certainly added to the stress on local streets. For the true locals, I can definitely see why a term that is connected to a swarm of locusts descending can seem appropriate for us.
I’ll accept that, and I’ll also allow that we have probably caused many of the long-time locals to just shake their head at the “destruction” we’ve brought to the area. But I’ll get over the guilt and the shame. And I’ll do it fairly quickly.
Of course, it’s easier to do so since I’m now part of a group.