I love tourists

I love tourists. (And transplants.) Granted, sometimes it’s a “kids say the darnedest things” kind of affection. I used to work at SeaWorld, and I won’t repeat his words here, but let’s just say a man from a small town in Oregon who was overwhelmed by the “diversity” taught me there are racist words that I didn’t know about.

He’s not the kind of tourist I love. Nor the ones who unknowingly starred in my daily comedy show: I watched seagulls dive-bomb trays of french fries as soon as the hungry guests emerged from Mama Stella’s. No, I value the people who remind me what’s good about this place. I mean, besides the weather. This weekend I met a woman from Chicago who awed at the mountains, and yes they were very effective at blocking my cell reception but I stopped cursing T-mobile and also spun in a slow circle. Ok, yes, I’m looking at them. Wow.

And every place has its own brand of localism, but ours is particularly bullheaded. Families sit behind property taxes like they earned the right to live here, passing down houses for generations. What they don’t know is that the transplants are saving this town. Because while we’re the last idiotic stand against all that is good and liberal in California, we have an ironic patience for tourists. Newcomers are weirdos. But we’re oblivious, too complacent and courteous to offer anything but smiles and averted gazes.

It is when I’m at a writing night, or in a art group, that people are surprised that I’m a local, like I’m some kind of rarity. Locals might create these spaces, but the transplants flock to them. They are still hungry for controversy, they still remember what it’s like to wear galoshes because you need them, not because they are covered in zebra stripes and match your fuzzy animal print coat…. Waterproof shoes are rad, why did no one tell me this? I stood in a creek! And my feet didn’t get wet!

The kind of tourist I love shakes his head at me, asks me how I can be okay with this, reminds me there is a larger world out there. The kind of tourist I love tells me I can retire here but I need to get out at some point. The kind of tourist I love, though, has to admit the chaparral here could inspire Dr. Seuss and this place is pretty great, underneath it all. And it’s getting greater.

  1. Beer. Obviously.
  2. The food trucks are multiplying.
  3. So Say We All
  4. A new haunted house
  5. …and more of course!

P.S. yes, I know I missed my post last week. I was preparing for a large camping festival, and yes it was lovely, and no I won’t write about it in my public-facing blog. I love you tourists, but that one isn’t for you.

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