By Philip Crossman

There are only two places, Here, this island off the coast of Maine, and Away. There is a big and obvious difference between those who live Here and those who live Away. There is no less a distinction between those who live Here and who the rest of us acknowledge are really from Here and those who live Here but who the rest of us know full well are really from Away. Each of us is firmly cast one way or the other. We are either from Here or, to one degree or another, we are from Away. These distinctions, some subtle some less so, are laboriously learned and clear to most of us, certainly those who have been here a couple of generations or more. The understanding of newcomers is, for a while, muddied and some cases are clearer than others. A lady who moves Here from Boston in June is still from Away in September. Simple enough. The following year, however, she thinks she’s from Here. We all know she’s from Away. A few years later she and we are again in agreement. She is from Away. At some point she may settle down and send some kids through school and before you know it she starts thinking she’s from Here again, until she succumbs to the temptation to speak up at a school board meeting and discovers she’s still from Away.

Other circumstances are far less clear. A couple; for the sake of illumination let’s make one of them from Here and the other from Away, settle down Here and have a child, Dolores. Dolores grows up Here, marries a local (different than from Here) guy, and they raise a family of their own. Eventually Dolores passes on, having never left. She wasn’t from Here. She only was Here. She was just Here by way of Away. One can only be from Here if you and your ancestors have never lived anywhere else. One cannot become from Here.

A person can, however, become from Away and such a stigma is for keeps. There is no redemption, no getting back on the wagon. Away happens. Like many unhappy circumstances, though, being from Away can be improved upon. A person from Away could, for example, marry one of us; and some have, with no more noble goal than to improve their situation, or to improve our quality of life. Either maneuver can be dicey.

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