Mainers have this quirky little way about them. They distrust nearly everyone, especially if you are From Away.
From Away means exactly what you think it would. You are not from here. Being that Maine’s motto is Vacationland, we have more than a few visitors and tourists roaming our beaches and snow mobile trails each year. From Away is used to describe them.
However, it has also come to be a label for anyone who moves into a town from anywhere else. I, for example, have lived in Maine since I was two years old. Although I did move away for about three months in my early twenties, the rest of my life has been here. I have lived in a few towns on the southern coast, and kept the same circle of friends and the same job regardless of the town I lived in. Perhaps that’s why being From Away never seemed to pertain to me. Oh, I had heard about it, and read about it, and maybe even thought it myself as I weaved around twenty out of state plates on my way to work each morning, but I never really experienced it first hand.
This last move I made was the farthest I have ever moved, and the first move I made with both kids in school. We moved form the southern coast to the central farm part of the state. In our former community, I was semi-involved in their schools – volunteering for field trips and providing snacks for parties. I was able to attend most special events, but working a 40 hour office job didn’t allow for much more than that. I wanted to do more but couldn’t.
With this move came the opportunity to work from home and a decrease in hours. I am able to contribute more in my children’s classrooms, and I am able to help out with various fund raising projects that I couldn’t before.
As I have written about here, I am part of a committee responsible for planning a 6th grade end of year trip. Our group has gone from an original 11 members, to a die hard 4 or 5. I am not surprised at all with the diminishing numbers, that tends to happen in every group. What I am surprised about is how the 4 other members (none of whom are From Away), make it perfectly clear that I am not an accepted part of the group. Regardless of how many ideas I bring to the table, how much I say “I’ll do it”, or how much I help. I’ve come to realize though, that this happens in almost every group setting. Whoever doesn’t fall into what is accepted as the norm of the group is marked as an outsider.
Mainers have just labeled it – but not correctly. I mean, really, how many people are raised and live in the same town their whole lives? So nearly everyone is potentially From Away. But it’s easier and more acceptable to say that a person isn’t trusted because they are From Away (we don’t know them yet) rather than because they are loud, or fat, or gay, or single, or another race. So groups such as the committee I’m involved with struggle along with only a handful of members because for a lot of people, it is not worth the hassle of remaining just to be made to feel inferior.
It took being “From Away” for me to realize that it has nothing to do with that at all.
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill