Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's In A Name?

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.

12 comments:

  1. I have to laugh at the bad grammar on that name plate!

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  2. We were just up at my in-laws cabin this past weekend, and I too noticed all the name plates on the road (my in-laws don't have one.) I thought how if I ever own a cabin, I surely wouldn't plaster my name all over. I would want to get away where people don't know me, so why on earth would I put my name up?

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  3. Hi, lady! I have left a little something for you on my blog. Enjoy your Thursday evening!

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  4. money shmoney, I am another sucker who would DIE to see my name in print in that byline!

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  5. the andersons own john & jane? someone call the cops.

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  6. I cant relate to icky signs. I do however can relate to people who consider belonging somewhere but failing bitterly, and even worse do not even realize it. This breed is a global player ;-)))

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  7. Ha! Emily made me laugh. Do your summer people use the carved wooden bear holding the shiny sign emblazened with their names? Because that one truly drives me insane.

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  8. lol, you should get one of those and put a really famous name on it like Prince William and Princess Kate. THAT would be awesome and I bet John and Jane Anderson would be jealous :)

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  9. I love the idea of summer homeowners needing to earn their "winter cred." It's an interesting concept to me to own property and only "visit" it. Of course, we have family friends who have a cabin on a lake in Canada that has been owned by the family for several generations, and they only go there for the summers. They feel deeply connected to that area.

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  10. I'm not a name plate on the property sort of gal but a couple of years ago we were given a very unusual gift from dear friends... a custom made steel cut out of a hand saw (my hubby is a carpenter) with our last name engraved in it. So, it proudly hangs on our front porch near the door. You can't really see it till you get right up the house.

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  11. I know exactly what you are talking about.... but it doesn't stop with the name plates! No! These are the same people who go the theme-y way with all their stuff. Let me be clear- not authentic. theme.

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  12. Shit. My parents are Andersons.... and they have a sign that says so up at the lake. Hahaha!I thought it was prerequisite to have a lacquered sign or something.

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