We’ve all encountered people who move here and talk incessantly about how great it was back where they came from.
A little of that is OK, understandable even. After all, Spokane has no monopoly on appealing attractions and alluring cultural offerings. It can be interesting to hear about restaurants, parks, festivals, weather quirks or whatever in other parts of the country. And an individual’s old-home regional pride doesn’t necessarily vanish the moment he or she moves here for a job or family reasons. Nor should it.
So we listen and nod, smile even. Maybe some of those people are just homesick. Being polite and patient with them is not too onerous a burden.
Eventually that can get old though. I mean, especially if the newcomer seems to be stuck in the past and incapable of acknowledging that the Inland Northwest is not without certain charms of its own.
But have you ever thought about what happens when people in the Spokane area move to other parts of the country?
It would vary from person to person, of course. We’re not all stamped from the same mold.
But my guess is at least a few of our exports arrive in their new homes far away and never stop talking about Spokane superlatives. I suspect many of those who move away from Spokane absolutely wear out listeners in Georgia or California with fond reminiscences about the Lilac City.
Oh, sure. Some people probably leave here and never look back. Not everybody loves Spokane.
But I’m guessing a more common scenario features our transplants to distant cities regaling their new acquaintances with rhapsodic tales of light traffic, relatively few bugs at night, the various community fests and only the vaguest rumors of high humidity.
Can’t you just hear it?
“This? You call this a big gathering? Why, back in Spokane you would have 10 times as many people show up if they thought there was a chance to sweat and a T-shirt was involved.”
It might be a long list.
“Why am I smiling? Oh, nothing. I just think it’s amusing that you folks actually name the lake to which you’ll be going.”
Or … “You saw a skunk in your backyard? That’s nice. Back in Spokane, we used to have moose and cougars waltz right into town.”
Or … “What? You consider that a long drive? Back in Washington where I used to live, people would go that far to get some tacos.”
Or … “In Spokane, living far from your dentist, hair stylist and ophthalmologist is a matter of choice.”
I’ll bet some former Spokane residents even brag about Inland Northwest trademarks that wouldn’t typically be considered positive. Call it competitive poor-mouthing.
“This? You call this hazy? Why, back in Spokane we always had a few days in August where the air quality was extra chunky, like something on an alien home world.”
Or … “You think you have insane politicians here? Back home we had a paranoid few who, you could tell, were hoping for an apocalyptic breakdown of the established social order and complete downfall of the educated.”
But mostly, I’m guessing, the Spokane area’s expatriates in, say, the East, bring up the good stuff. They bring up Lilac City memories that aren’t apt to fade away.
“I like the West. Hardly anybody cared where I went to school or who my parents and grandparents were. I like that it was a region settled long ago by people who decided that their lives back here in the East weren’t good enough for them.”
And I suppose some will remember certain people and certain expressions of kindness to the end of their days.
So next time you find yourself hearing co-workers or neighbors going on yet again about some supposedly mind-blowing fast-food chain or a transcendent outdoor concert venue back where they used to live, try not to roll your eyes. Remember, somewhere someone who used to live in Spokane is probably, at that very moment, characterizing Pig Out in the Park as a religious gathering or recalling sledding at Manito Park as if it happened in a cherished snow globe.
What’s your best example of people hereabouts inexplicably assuming that everyone they encounter shares their political leanings?
A waiting room TV being locked on a certain highly partisan channel? A contractor working in your house listening to loud talk radio with a certain strident bent? A co-worker somehow managing to not pick up on your clear belief that his favored mayoral candidate is unfit for the job? Other?
Born in the U.S.A.
Everybody knows restored vintage automobiles are a thing in Spokane, as they are many places.
What drives people to spend countless hours fixing up old Fords or Studebakers?
Here are my top half-dozen theories. (Feel free to share your own.)
Restoring a vintage car is a way of recapturing youth.
The daydreams and memories that float through your mind while working out in the garage tend to be thoughts to savor.
It’s a hoot to show off the shiny finished product to your peers and grandchildren.
Maybe it sounds nuts, but the old heaps really seem to appreciate the rescue makeovers.
The guy doing the restoration might be stooped and tired now, but there’s no reason the ’57 Chevrolet can’t be made beautiful again.
The satisfyingly full-throated roar the engine lets out when it snaps to life.
Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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