I moved to the Vineyard in 2006 and still feel like a washashore. But over the past year or so, I’ve begun exhibiting symptoms I associate with longtime residence of the Island. So here’s a list, composed while sitting in traffic this week, which I’ll call, “You know you’re a year-rounder when…”
• You put not one but two “Feel the Pride” stickers on your car and realize you should have done this years ago, because half the cops on the Island are ex football players.
• You’re off-Island, at a market you used to visit only after receiving a bonus check, and are trolling the aisles of organic produce and artisanal cheeses thinking, “When did the prices here get so reasonable?”
• You dream of Chinese takeout the way you used to dream about sex.
• It’s February, bleaker than a Bergman film, there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, and you think, “Well at least there’s no traffic.”
• You never saw the point of Falmouth, but it’s February again (or January, or March) and you think, “Maybe Teaticket Mall deserves a look after all.”
• You’re less interested in the New York Times coverage of Syria than in a Vineyard Times article headlined, “Honey makers drop suit to rejoin Farmers Market.”
• You shout at a store clerk and instantly regret it, not because you were wrong, but because three quarters of the people in the store know you, and all of them are texting.
• You seem to know a lot of people in A.A. and wonder if you should join them.
• It’s a Saturday evening in mid-summer, your child incurs an injury that should be treated at the emergency room, and you tell him, “Bud, you know what? Tough it out til Monday.” Or better yet, Labor Day.
• It’s summer and it’s you that needs medical treatment, in fact its potentially serious, and your first thought is, “dear God, if I’m struck dead, please let it happen before my family visits in August.”
• The day after your procedure, which turns up nothing, you get a free follow-up from the doctor who performed it, since he’s stuck beside you in the post office line.
• The day after that, you go to Leslie’s to pick up your prescriptions and the lady behind the counter asks how your colonoscopy went.
• On the way home, you risk breaking an axle and swamping your car to maneuver on that secret, barely passable road skirting one of the Island’s worst intersections (and no, I’m not telling you how to find it).
• Those neighbors you used to think were crazy for fleeing the Island in summer for an empty beach in northern Maine don’t seem so crazy anymore.
• You’re at your desk, staring down a deadline, and it’s one of those gem-like Island days when everything, even the breeze, seems to shimmer. And you think of that wise maxim: “Never do today what you can do tomorrow.”
And then head to the beach.
Tony Horwitz is an author who lives in West Tisbury.