“Hi, my name is Ryan.”

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And just like that, an inquisition sparked by my midwestern accent begins.

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Most folks don’t even bother reciprocating with the appropriate likewise greeting before going straight for, “You’re not from here, are you?”

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My gaze softens and my mouth draws a polite smile, but inside I’m sighing.
I want you to know I know they’re not trying to be rude. They’re trying to place me.

If they’re native locals, they want to know if I pass the Transplant Test just before loading a round in the chamber of their shotgun. “Chit-chit!” Did I come here to change the order of things? “Chit-chit!” Or did I come here to embrace it? “Chit-chit!” What are my intentions for dating their hometown?

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When I choose to answer, word economy is everything. I have but a few moments before the shotgun-toting Boise Sorting Hat determines whether I’m a Gryffindor, a Slytherin, or target practice. I’m only kidding about the target practice, but—much to my chagrin—I’ve been misplaced as a Slytherin more than a time or two.

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Non-native locals are typically relieved to meet another of their kind. They’re armed with questions that have entirely different motives than that of the homegrown 208s. They want to know how long I’ve lived here and the extent to which native locals have or haven’t accepted me.

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Once they realize I’ve been here nearly eight years and that I'm mostly in with the in-crowd, the siphoning of any sage wisdom I might have in my possession begins. They want in.

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That’s when the crazy switch flips inside me.

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It surprised me the first few times it happened years ago, but now I know it’s a defensive instinct. But why?

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Like Rowena Ravenclaw protecting her diadem from another potential Tom Riddle, now I’m the one reaching for the Sorting Hat. One self-indulgent mention of their multimillion-dollar startup—or fat Gringotts vault—and they’re banned from house Gryffindor.

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Now isn't that the cauldron calling the kettle black? I imagine transplants with 20+ years under their belts still see me as a first-year muggle who can't tell Pollyjuice from Skele-gro, or Garden City from Eagle.

So what’s the point of it all?

Call me naïve, but I think it amounts to how much and how many people care about the future of this valley.

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Few are called here for the exact same reasons, but contrary to popular concern, it seems most are intent to preserve what inspired their relocation.

So is it mostly our reluctance to change that has us suspicious of one another? If expansion is inevitable everywhere, and new commerce is the bearer of local prosperity and opportunity, maybe this is the natural order of things after all. It sort of feels like most of us wanting things to stay the same while knowing it's time to grow.

In different ways, I suppose both make sense.

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So whether you’ve lived here a month, eight years, or a number of decades, I think it’s plenty good and okay to feel protective of our Treasure Valley. And who knows? That could be the very thing that encourages awesome others to join us someday.

We could wait for time to tell, but just in case, maybe we'll hang on to the Sorting Hat.

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Since you were such a good sport about putting up with my H.P.-heavy references, here's a fun clip from the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride at Universal!


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