The Local: What to Believe and What to Throw Away

He has this strange charm about him: one you can’t seem to understand, nor would you want to. He mixes up his words and tenses, but you find it so endearing. He’s exempt. He’s exempt because he is the local. He is your key to all new adventures and your guide to an entirely different world.

He’ll show you his home the way he has seen it throughout his entire life. He will share childhood stories and distant memories and captivate you with beautiful sights, all in one fell swoop. He will wine and dine you at his favorite restaurant; where the owner knows his name. He’ll take you out to parties and introduce you to his friends: the ones he’s grown up with and have seen him at his worst. They’ll adore you and want to know everything about how the two of you met. “At the Sunday market; when I almost knocked over the vegetable stand,” you’ll say; touching your face to cover the red hue brightening up your cheeks. Their smiles will warm you and, soon enough, you’ll feel at home in sound of their laughter.

He’ll steal you away again only to lead you out into the moonlight. The street musician on the boardwalk gets louder as you near. To your surprise, he takes you by the hand and dances with you for what could have lasted decades. Your feet can barely catch themselves onto the ground, you feel as if your heart is in your throat, and yet you couldn’t imagine a more magical setting. Moonlight and music are notorious mischief makers.

That glow of the starry night sky? That cool breeze playing your hair like a violin as you melt into his arms? That is the point of no return, fellow wanderer: one many of us know much too well.

You have exempted him.

And just like that, he is exempt from all other things. He is exempt from keeping his promises, following through on plans, and whatever else he has most certainly assured you would come true long after you have gone. He is exempt from visiting you like he said he would. He is exempt from calling you back. He is exempt from feeling the same about you when you are no longer there, in the moonlight, to dance with.

It is not to say he won’t show up at your front door months after your departure to pledge his undying love for you. It is not to say he wouldn’t cross rivers and oceans just to hold your hand one more time. It is not to say he won’t think of you every moment of every day after he drops you off at the airport. It is not to say you cannot have a bright and hopeful someday together. It is not to say he will not keep every single one of those wishful promises he has ever made to you.

It is only to say that he doesn’t have to.

But…

Let him take you on an adventure through his world. Walk with him down lonely streets and listen closely to his hopes and his dreams. Tell him yours. Allow yourself to be swept into enchantment for it is alright to let go every once in a while. Say ‘yes’ to the impromptu picnic on the beach. Say ‘yes’ to watching the sunrise from his secret spot off the hiking trail. Don’t you ever say ‘no’ to beautiful possibilities.

Only, be wary, dear traveler.

Please do not lift him any higher than he is, for if he falls, so will you.

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