Nov 10, 2012

What's local?

I have a secret, but first you should know the back story. When people ask me where I'm from my usual answer is Santa Cruz, California. It's a true answer too. I graduated from high school and college there, and my parents still live there. It's where I go when I go "home". But my secret (which, if you know me, isn't really a secret) is that I'm really from the San Francisco Bay Area. I was born in Palo Alto and moved to Los Altos when I was 4. It wasn't until I was almost 15 that my parents moved me, kicking and screaming, to the small city of Capitola in Santa Cruz County. These days it's incredibly cool to be able to say I'm from Santa Cruz. And as far as I'm concerned, anyone who puts in high school time, in any city, has the right to call themselves local.

After a brief stint in northern California, in the gold rush town of Nevada City where my husband is from, Luke and I moved to Boise, Idaho. That was in 2005. No offense to my Idaho peeps, but those who don't know the glory that is Idaho and are from the west coast states, usually look at me sideways when I tell them we live in Boise. Being from Idaho isn't nearly as cool as being from Santa Cruz. I'm pretty sure it doesn't help that I listen to country music too, but that's from my California days people! I expected to be in and out of Idaho in 5 years. Almost 8 years and having birthed a native Idahoan later, I still told people I was from California.

Until our recent trip to Spain. When people asked where I was from I found myself answering that my parents are from California, but we're from Idaho, "one of the states in the middle." Then today, at the Farmer's Market, I ran into multiple people who I've known for years here in Boise. I had lovely conversations with all of them. It made my day to rekindle a friendship with a friend and former co-teacher of mine from Challenger. As a side note, I should mention that most of my really solid relationships here in Boise are with friends and family who have also moved out from California. This also makes the "local" line somewhat difficult for me to draw. I digress. What I'm getting at is that today I felt like a local here in Boise, despite my distaste for the absolutely frigid weather. The Farmer's Market is where I got many staples for my weekly menu, I met up with lovely people and then came home to my husband and native Idaho toddler and kitties.

When this thought initially crossed my mind I posted this on FB:
At what point is a person considered "local" to a place they weren't born?
So far these are the responses I've gotten:

  • psh i'm still waiting to be a santa cruz local and i've been here for 2.5 years

  • Completely not meant to be condescending, but I always felt that it was precisely when you don't see any reason to wonder about that question.
  • Did you buy a gun???

As I delve deeper into the person I am and am evolving to be, I wonder. Am I from Idaho? It's the place where I've found myself as an adult, established a career, got married, became a parent and maintain an incredibly strong social network. So much so that I call them my Idaho family. In some ways I feel so at home here, but there are other things that make Idaho feel so foreign to me. I'm not a Christian, when someone says 'bronco' I think horse not football, I'm really socially liberal, I feel a little like a misfit at times and I certainly haven't bought a gun.

Carry Bradshaw, the fictitious main character in the show Sex and the City says that after living in New York City for 8 years you can call yourself local, and by that measure I'm just about there. I also have this ardent desire to move back to the central coast and to be near family. When really pressed, however, I can't say that moving back would be an easy choice to make. For the future, I'll probably tell new people I meet that I'm from Idaho, but I'm not sure I'm a local yet.

Now for some incredibly cute pictures of my little spud.

Helping rake the leaves with his broom.

Who knew roses could be so resistant to the cold?

I ran one errand too many. 
Puppet masters.

There was a bake sale at the school where I voted. On school propositions no less. Genius.

My neighborhood finally got a little lending library!

He finally got up enough courage to run all the way through the zoo tunnel alone. Then he kept running while I had to sprint around the exhibit with a stroller in tow.

Zoo Boise jeep. Most favorite attraction of all time.

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