I drove my daughter to work today and we both noticed how many nicely dressed people there were who were carrying maps and stopping every few minutes to get their bearings. She works the next town over from us, which happens to be Salem, Massachusetts, home of the historic Salem witch trials.
October is the busiest month in terms of tourists (Halloween), but the summer also draws a constant flow of visitors. And the town in which I live, right next door to Salem, is on the ocean, has a beautiful harbor, is known as a vibrant sailing community, and also brings in a regular tourist population during the summer months.
I get it. It is a beautiful place. I feel lucky to get to live here. At least in the summertime.
Tonight, we went to an outside event overlooking the harbor and it struck me how unusual it is to live somewhere where others visit, for their vacation. I grew up in a suburb outside of Baltimore and nobody deliberately came to see our town, unless they were related to somebody who lived there.
But our town is historic and beautiful and on the ocean; it claims to be the birthplace of the American navy, although a nearby town also makes the same claim.
Last summer, my family went on a trip to the Southwest, where we hiked and visited art galleries and checked out towns that differed greatly both in terms of environment and culture from the place where we live. As a tourist, you view your surroundings with a sense of purpose, with the idea that there is something of value which you are about to explore.
It’s funny to think that people come to my home town and think of it as something different. A place that is worth spending their time to visit.
I love where I live. It is all that people imagine it to be. Yet . . . it is an odd feeling to watch others come in and look at it as if it is something that you discover in books and online and must visit.
It’s odd because for me, for all of us who live here, it is not a tourist attraction. It is home.
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