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Background photo by Don Sylor

We try to have fun. I ordered a stripper pole and installed it here at the hair salon and it was a great success. You had to be under 200 pounds and you could only dance five minutes, that was the stipulation. —Dougie, Provincetown

Try this. Whether you live here or you’re visiting, just go talk to a stranger today. Someone in a shop or the street. Ask a question. We Yankees have a deserved reputation for reticence, but if you scratch the surface, the stories come out.

I’m comin’ back as a porpoise, did you know that? And when you go to the beach or in a boat, I’ll be fishing and following you and say hello. Just look for me. I’ll be there.  —Bonnie, Yarmouth

Drive down a country lane and then start walking—Cape Cod is full of tucked-away spots—and look for someone outside. Find a pretext to have a conversation. Here are some questions to get you started: “Where’s the best chowder around here?” “Do you like it here in the winter?” “How did you end up living here?”

My husband is a retired dairy farmer. A dairy farmer works seven days a week. He had never seen the ocean. So when we were married we came to the Cape so he could see the ocean. His eyes filled with tears and he said I have to live here. And here we are, and here we intend to stay. —Barbara, Harwichport

We’re all distracted these days. We’re too ready to move on to the next thing. We read text messages while we’re talking to each other. We don’t listen well anymore. Let’s just stop all that for a moment, stand still, look someone in the eye, and pay attention to what they’re saying.

I only held the church Clock Keeper job for five or six years. I’m afraid my confession about my ultimate reason for wanting to retire is: I don’t really care what time it is. —Thomas, West Tisbury

We know each other through our personal stories. A shared story makes us feel less concerned about our differences. It helps us move past the bitter and intractable politics of our age. In the midst of all this fear and anger, I believe this simple conversational exercise is one way to recover humor and compassion.

My soul is a jar and there are only certain things that enter it. And our language is one of those. It enters and it exhilarates me. —Chief Flying Eagle, Mashpee

Let’s find some common ground. We share a place. Let’s make the best of it. Let’s talk to each other.

By the way, you don’t need a microphone to do this, but if you want to borrow one, let me know.

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About

Jay Allison is an independent broadcast journalist and the founder of WCAI (90.1, 91.1, 94.3 FM). He was the curator and producer of This I Believe on NPR and produces The Moth Radio Hour. His nonprofit organization in Woods Hole, Atlantic Public Media, created the websites Transom.org and PRX.org (the Public Radio Exchange), dedicated to helping citizens tell their own stories.

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Bathing, Oak Bluffs, Mass

Bathing, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard