Every time we’ve moved to a new city, there’s a moment when the locals look at us like we’re crazy for visiting some place nearby.

In DC, it was crossing the Potomac from Northern Virginia to DC or vice versa. If we casually mentioned we were going to an event on the other side, people acted like we were Louis & Clark, about to embark on a life threatening journey. We thought this was odd and amusing. To us, driving a few miles over a bridge seemed totally reasonable. Sure, there was traffic, but that’s to be expected. As newcomers, our tolerance for inconvenience was higher. We had no benchmarks, norms, or expectations against which to compare. Where we came from, driving 30 or 45 minutes (usually crossing 30 or 45 miles in the process) to meet a friend was normal. So driving 30 or 45 minutes in DC seemed fine too, even if it only covered a few miles.

By the time we left DC two years later, we were beginning to absorb the locally accepted definition of inconvenient. We started to see crossing the Potomac as a chore best avoided. I don’t know why this happens, but it does.

I used to drive 30,000 miles or more per year across the state of Michigan. I commuted from our farm house to my work 80 miles away, every single day. Long drives seemed normal. And in the local context, it was. But now that I rarely drive long stretches, it seems weird.

Recently, friend of a friend drove down from Myrtle Beach to Charleston. She thought the two hour southerly trip was a fun little jaunt. I felt bad like maybe she didn’t know how far away it was. I felt inconvenienced on her behalf, but she did not seem to mind.

When I visit big cities for work, I have a lot of meetings with people who live there. I always tell them to pick the place to meet. They always ask where I’m staying and then make a big to-do about how I’ll never want to travel to meet them where they are. I always say it’s fine. It’s normally an Uber and less than an hour. I often have a rental car and don’t mind driving a longer distance in a new city anyway. They seem very stressed by this. Like if I’m not staying in the same neighborhood as them, how can we ever meet?

I think it’s healthy to bring an out-of-towner’s perspective to the place you live sometimes. Your world can start to shrink if you too easily adopt the inconvenience scale of the locals.