My mother is a restless woman. When I was a kid, we rarely vacationed in the same place more than once. When I was in college, she made a sort of game out of staying in a different hotel every time they came to visit.
Dad and I are more fixed. We want to put down roots and really get to know a place. There was one vacation we took every year, the same week each year, to Bellaire, Michigan. That was the trip I loved, the one I looked forward to every year. I couldn’t wait to visit familiar places, to see what had changed and what had stayed the same. I relished the rhythm, the routine, the relationship to this place.
But what was the relationship I had to this place, after all? In places with high tourism volumes, especially during the warm months, “summer people” is often a perjorative the residents use to describe the hordes who descend and then depart each year. The scorn, I suspect, is not for the visitors in and of themselves but for the sense of entitlement they often carry with them. The feeling that, because they spend a few weeks or even a few months here every summer, that this is “their” place, that they have the same rights and relationship in regards to it as do those who make it their year-round home and know it in all its seasons and moods.
I think the truth is, as usual, somewhere in between. We should acknowledge that even people who only perch in a place for a few days, but who do so over and over, have some sort of relationship with that place, but we should be honest that it isn’t the same relationship as that of those who roost in that place permanently. Can we, perhaps, learn to harness what is best in both of those kinds of attachments for the good of the place that, after all, we all love?
A few things to perhaps ponder as you read my latest post at No Unsacred Place, On the Function of Time on the Magic of Place.