I will probably never get over the fact that my live "in the woods" means I'm surrounded by way more people during the summer months then I ever was when I lived on the outskirts of "town" as a child and adolescent. The phenomenon can be boiled down into two simple words: summer homeowners.
Summer homeowners are an interesting breed. They feel an intense connection with this land and often exude a deep sense of "living" up here. Yet, few summer homeowners spend enough uninterrupted time up here to really become part of the landscape and get to know the true character of the land and the year-round residents. Often, summer homeowners' total avoidance of the winter months means they totally fail at earning any credibility from the cynical locals.
And here's the thing: these summer homeowners put their name on everything. Every trip out to the mailbox I pass a sign board filled with the names of people I would not recognize if they walked right up to me and shook my hand.The mailboxes themselves are another matter. Although each summer homeowner on our road has a mailbox, complete with their name, only four mailboxes in the row of nearly 20, are used all year.
It's like a wild animal marking their territory: the summer homeowners peeing their last name all over their property to try to leave behind a sense that; "I was here, I was here, I was here, I belong here."
Maybe I don't really feel that I belong here, but I have absolutely no desire to plaster my mailbox, the road, and our cabin with Andy's and my last names. This may stem mostly from the fact that I find the majority of house "name plates" tacky. Your name and a moose carved into a lacquered board? Ick, ick, ick!
But I realize we're most prone to sprinkling our name around when we're proud of something. As a writer, I like nothing better than seeing my byline in print. And if you really look into where you make the most money as a writer, it's actually usually not from penning magazine articles or novels or other things that you get to paste your name on the top of it. If you wanted to make a nice steady income as a writer, one of your better bets is to write for the projects no one else really wants to tackle: brochures, press releases, marketing materials, et. al. But it's a little harder to get really excited about the marketing campaign you edited and people just don't respond as much when you hold up a brochure and exclaim: "I wrote this" as when you turn to the magazine pages to hold up your article in print.
Sure the name might not need to be there. But it must feel as good to find your name posted at a crossroads at the end of a long drive as it does to see your byline on the glossy pages months after you completed an assignment. It makes you feel like you belong; like at long last, you've done something really right.