“What’s your phone number?” she asks.
“5226,” they answer.
She experiences a moment of confusion.
Then she remembers: everyone in this village has the same 6-digit area code and prefix. It’s been like that for years. If you’re a local and you’re asked for your number, you give just four digits.
When you’re a local, you know that.
When you’re a tourist, you ask for the rest of the number.
She nods, and says nothing, feeling grateful for the quiet implication that, having once lived in this village, she is still being treated like a local.
Or, she thinks darkly, maybe she is being tested as a tourist.
It was a quiet way to reveal those connected to the area from those just passing through.
Despite having roots going back generations, she hadn’t lived here for decades. She visited once-a-year; saw old friends; attended social events. But, in many ways, she was, really, always just passing through. Always slightly on the edge.
Yet, she yearned to belong; to feel the place like one feels their own skin.
In that brief moment of asking for a phone number, and the silence that followed, she understood. These local, childhood roots would endure forever within her; they would co-exist with her life thousands of miles away. They couldn’t be separated nor could they exist apart. In that, she belonged. Both there. And here.
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