There have been several times in the past year in which my husband and I have felt like outsiders in our new community. We are not extravagant people, and even though we are New Yorkers, we do not follow any preconceived notions of what being a city person entails. Consider for example Woody Allen's quintessential New York intellectually savvy upper-class couple in Annie Hall - that is not us... well maybe the quirkiness is us a little bit.
Although we enjoyed many aspects of city living, i.e. galleries, museums, bookstores. vegetarian restaurants, we did not move upstate expecting to transport such activities. Rather, we have sought out to embrace this uniquely different way of life. We have slowly discovered small niches within the array of neighboring towns and hamlets that at times does make us feel more at home.
However, nothing made us feel more welcomed than what occurred last weekend. Over the past year, we have embarked on seeking out local restaurants and shops. One thing that has changed for us, thus far, is our consumer consciousness. We have been trying to become local consumers and are buying from people who are literally our neighbors; people who care, rather deeply, about maintaining the place that they call home. Shopkeepers are not only seen in their respective businesses, but at council meetings, art exhibitions, farmers markets, and even the liquor store (the only one in a ten mile radius).
Our grand welcoming, a year in the making, came about by a waitress at a nearby diner (the only one in a 5 mile radius), who we assumed did not care very much for us. It was Sunday morning, and we had decided to treat ourselves to breakfast that did not require either one of us cooking, a monthly ritual of some sorts. So, we headed to our local eatery.
We walked into a semi-empty diner, a sign that the weather outside was getting colder which meant that the tourists would rarely visit anything above Yonkers. We decided to sit in an empty section to have some privacy. In typical diner fashion, we were given menus and asked for our drink orders - coffee (for me) and tea (for him). A few minutes later, our waitress came strolling down to our table, remarking, "You probably don't need anymore time, since you have been here so often and have probably memorized the menu by this point."
A statement that was probably meant to just hurry us along; she probably did not think anything of it either. However, my heart felt so full after hearing those words. Of course we could not show the affect that they had on us until after she had left. When she left our side, I smiled at my husband, and that said it all. We were in... we were finally locals. We have shed our city labels for townie labels, that is okay with us.