Coming In From the Outside

I find the term “Outside” very strange.

At first, when I had arrived in the territory, people would use the term, almost as if they were talking about someone being committed.

“Oh, he’s going Outside,” they would say, sagely nodding their heads.

Once I caught the drift of the term, I wondered how long it would be before it was socially acceptable for me to use the term. I had assumed that being a new member of the territory doesn’t immediately grant you carte blanche to drop Yukon-isms.

I recall feeling a little weird the first time I used the word “Outside”, in its correct Northern usage. Instead of just saying, I’m going home for Christmas, I said I was “Going Outside”. While it was a perfectly natural thing to say, as a full, card-carrying member of the Yukon, it still felt odd coming out of my mouth.

First of all, not having been born and raised here, it seems an odd colloquialism to affect. As if, somehow, I was feeling insecure of my Yukon-ness. Which I really shouldn’t have been. After all, I had been really working hard at cultivating my Yukon chic.

I had a healthy amount of facial hair, a general disdain for all things governmental (while I collected earnings from said source – a particularly common Yukon dichotomy) and I had an Arctic entry full of empty Yukon Brewing product.

So the word slid out of my mouth before I knew what happened.

At least I was perfectly validated in using the term.

If you were going to affect a vacation spot with a certain amount of gravitas, a Christmas trip to the wintery hellhole that is Ottawa would do the trick.

I wondered then, why did I choose this point in my Yukon life to feel it OK to use the word “Outside”?

Did I unconsciously wait a certain length of time in my Northern tenure before I deemed it OK to use the word?

I dunno. But I did feel uncomfortable afterwards.

A part of me felt like I really didn’t deserve to use the term. For all you born-and-bred Yukoners, it must be something you’re used to. The territory has a long history of people from all across the country, discarding their former lives, to redefine themselves in the Magic and the Mystery.

(No matter how much money you throw at an ad agency, cough – two hundred thousand – cough, between you and me, The Magic And The Mystery was the best slogan the territory ever had.)

Some people, when they move here, had already made a jump start into their new lives. They grew facial hair on the way here, stopped in at Mark’s Work Warehouse for a fresh load of Carhartt and had been putting bandanas on their dog for years.

But I recall making somewhat conscious decisions about when I should be adopting Northern affectations. It isn’t all that shocking that people want to take care in how they fit in, in their new home.

Small steps are taken, so that eventually, it will seem natural when you sit in your usual table at your favourite watering hole and complain about the new crop of summer arrivals.

In case you weren’t quite sure, you know you’ve truly made it as a Yukoner when you start to feel disdain at transients. Never mind that you were one yourself, it’s a regular cycle kind of thing.

So, dropping a word like “Outside” made me feel odd. I’ve been here for 10 years, what am I feeling so insecure about?

Or maybe I just felt uncomfortable with how insular the word makes the Yukon sound.

Particularly when it comes from a naturalized citizen like myself.

Of course, I do think about these things a little too much.

Someone has to.

If you are bothered that Anthony Trombetta isn’t Yukonish enough, contact him at [email protected]

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