building community

reflectingdue to my father’s job, we moved around a bit growing up.  reflecting back, transitioning was a challenge for me.  i thrive on my interactions with others, so meeting people wasn’t – and still isn’t – difficult.  but i get attached easily, and leaving friends, and then creating new circles of friends, seems to throw me for a bit of a loop.  one time, in elementary school, my best friend laurie moved away.  i was devastated.  and i wasn’t even the one leaving.  but i remember my Dad sitting me down and telling me how i can’t “put all my eggs in one basket.”  this, he said, was an opportunity for me to learn about making a lot of friends.  to surround myself with many people to support me, and me to support them, in a variety of ways.  he was right, of course, although at the time, i thought my world was coming to an end.  i took his advice to heart, though, and have even found myself talking to my daughter about this exact lesson recently.

six years ago, we moved to new england from the dc area.  and even though i had a couple of close friends here, as well as family, i was incredibly lonely.  i wasn’t working outside of the home, so my days and nights consisted of time with a toddler.  i hadn’t built up my “basket”, as Billy would say.  it took me a full year before i really felt like i built solid relationships, and for me, this also meant that it took me a year before i felt comfortable.  since then, we’ve moved a couple of times, but generally within the same area.  we’ve been in this house, in this small town, for two years.  and for most of it, i never put time into friendships within these town boundaries.  my daughter has her friends, and i was polite to her friends’ parents, but i didn’t socialize with any of them, and honestly, i didn’t feel like i was missing anything.  i am very fortunate to have an incredibly strong network scattered throughout new england, and any friend time was spent with them, and i didn’t put any effort into new relationships very close to home.  then a couple months ago, i was talking with a group of moms, and it quickly became clear that they had this little group of women that they rely on, for playdates, rides, and good conversation.  their kids saw each other all the time, and my daughter and i weren’t a part of this.  i realized that i needed to change this dynamic, how we fit into our community.

since that day, i feel like i have made a few strong connections with families here.  we do dinners, our kids have playdates, we swim at the town pond, and i call them when my commute sucks and i can’t get to the school in time for pick up.  and not a day goes by that i do not recognize that this sort of community building is significant.  no matter how many people i can call on, all over the world, it is important to connect with my neighbors.  in addition to loving my home, i now love the community that surrounds it, and the people that make it such a wonderful place to live.corntreeapplesshedIMG_1581Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

“a community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. it is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” ~ wendell berry

6 Comments on “building community

  1. I sometimes forget how similar your dad was to mine in the advice he gave. I remember getting almost the same talk from my dad with that move. 🙂

  2. what a wonderful reminder. It’s giving me food for thought. Although I have a core group of longtime friends (who are not close in distance) and then there are the connections across the country via social media (strangely that connection feels the most fulfilling to me) I too have noticed in my own community the way the women come together. Most don’t work and I felt like I couldn’t be part of their “club” most likely my own stigma. I’m sure they would embrace me, I just don’t let them. I’m wondering if I should? I think you are brave for doing it. I’m happy that once you did, you found it was a good thing. I’m still not sure after writing this that I want that? Hum.

    • you know, overall, i still don’t feel like i am a part of their “club” and i really don’t want it. BUT i have found a couple of women that i have totally connected with, more like women in the rest of my tribe, that i feel comfortable with, and supported by. perhaps there are a couple of those women close by. . . if you are so willing to open up to that : )

  3. A very good lesson. I’m curious, how did you make that connection with the moms? I have such a hard time “fitting in” and never can figure out how to break that ice. Good for you – sounds like you are much happier now.

    • i was so resistant to it for so long, because i too felt like i didn’t fit in. and really, i still feel that way. but i kept talking to different women here in the community, and once i set my mind to be open to the possibility that i could (maybe, possibly, hopefully) connect with someone, i realized that there are, in fact, a couple that are cut from a similar cloth. we share similar values and mindsets and i feel happy and comfortable in their space. overall, i still feel like more of an outsider within the group of moms here, but it is SO nice to have people to lean on, even if it’s just one or two. . .

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