“Away” is a suspect place.

And it concerns me that some of you folks who will visit or have visited our islands once or twice, and then fallen understandably in love with these magnificent surroundings, and who then decide to move here for good, give up your day job, uproot yourselves, maybe even your families and, on the spur of the moment, buy a house or get a rent, may not have thought things through.

You may find it will take a little longer than you’d anticipated to slip free of the inherent shackles that attend everyone who doesn’t already live here and who can recite an island lineage that stretches back centuries.

There are the obvious obstacles, of course, to the idyllic vision you’ve taken to your bosom. There are the stormy or cancelled boat rides. The limited shopping opportunities. No road-side trash pick-up. The sometimes touchy business of finding friends among the regulars. The steadfast resistance to your suggestions, things that seem perfectly obvious to you, of how we can improve our lives. The lack of cell phone service and the enormous reluctance to ever having any and the spotty Internet.

There are certain members of the opposite sex who may become a little aggressive, others who may prove inexplicably resistant, no place for you to set a few pots. And the fact that we will know much, perhaps everything, about you before you’ve even unpacked, while you may never discover anything of consequence about the rest of us.

But the biggest challenge by far will be deciding who to wave to and with how much or how little enthusiasm or, better yet, who not to grace with that intimate level of acknowledgement at all.

It’s tempting, as a newcomer, to wave joyously to everyone from day one, even before you’ve distilled and committed to memory from among the many possibilities a “list” of acceptable recipients. Even those of us who warrant from the rest of us that sort of recognition, customarily warrant it only to one tortuously learned degree or another.

It’s a touchy and subtle business. Nuance is everything and someone who has grown accustomed to the scarce endorsement offered by a barely raised thumb connected to a head and torso that, without exception, turn simultaneously away will not take kindly to suddenly having to endure a large wave and a big smile. And of course the opposite is equally true and speaks volumes.

In short, the risk of taking to the road without having cleared that hurdle is considerable and driving around town waving, perhaps with unwarranted exuberance, perhaps with two hands, to all the wrong people or perhaps ignoring all the right ones can set your immigration status back decades.

Phil Crossman operates the Tidewater Motel and observes island customs on Vinalhaven.