I learned this lesson from, of all things, a
Actually, six pickup trucks. I idled in my car across the street from
Fence Lake store. Six pickup trucks filled the lot. That meant twelve
on me if I were to swallow my fear and walk in. Too polite to ask
they'd glance outside at my license plate. White, not yellow -- a
car. They'd get the wrong idea. You're not from these parts, are
And something in me couldn't stand the thought of being considered an
just then, even by people I didn't know.
I'd driven out of my way to come here, anxious
the community whose poetic name came from exactly what it says, a
lake. Now that I was here, I couldn't bring myself to go through with
I couldn't infiltrate the town. I hadn't anticipated being so scared. I
go to new places all the time and only rarely feel out of place (or if
I do, I ignore it). Fence Lake was different. Somehow, as I'd driven
and farther from the interstate, I'd become increasingly aware of the
that I was an outsider. By the time I'd reached Fence Lake, I'd placed
a figurative fence around the community in my mind. And I knew which
of it I was on.
Four I could handle. Five, even. But six? No
I could only skim the surface of Fence Lake,
even if I
did get up the guts to go inside the store. I'd never really know what
it was like here, just like I never really know any place I visit.
living here, knowing people here, growing up and dying here, I'd never
get it right. I would have to be satisfied with my role as outsider, a
person from other parts.
I drove away, choice made. My loss, I'm sure.