“What’s your phone number?” I ask a friend.
“5226,” they reply.
I’m visiting a different state, and being given only four numbers bewilders me. Then I remember where I am. Everyone in the area has the same area code and prefix, so the first 6-digits are all the same. It’s been that way for a long time.
Even though they have to dial 10-numbers to make any call—yes, even local ones—they give out only the last 4-digits when asked their number. It saves time and locals don’t even think about it. I feel honored I’m still treated as a local, even though I moved away years ago. But I have family here, come back regularly and our family roots go back a few generations, so that counts for something.
It’s one of those things that remind me of small ways I feel connected to a place. If I had no history with the area, the 4-digit response to my phone number question would make no sense at all. It would remind me of my outsider status, like hearing a foreign word and having to ask what it means.
Instead, my moment of confusion is quickly replaced with familiarity. Right, I remember. That’s all they need to tell me. The rest of the numbers are known. With that awareness, I experience a sense of being part of the group. They didn’t have to translate for me. I knew the language. This was still home.