The Search for Community

My first semester in college, I participated in a pilot program called Search for Community. I don’t actually remember too much about this aside from the fact that we attended all of our classes together in an old bungalow, and we read Watership Down. But the gist of the program was a study of how mankind seeks and creates community, that this has been part of our essence since the dawn of humanity, although the ways that various cultures go about forming their communities can vary greatly.
I hadn’t given this much thought since that freshman year long ago, but lately, the phrase “search for community” keeps floating through my mind. Because I feel a bit adrift from my community, that circle that always surrounded me, made up of family and friends, all people who knew me and loved me, who I could count on, and who could count on me. And while I may talk to my best friend and my sister and my dad and my brother and several other members of that core team, just as frequently as I ever did, the truth is, it’s not the same.
Let’s suppose that tomorrow you were going to pack up your belongings, and maybe a little dog, and move across the country, leaving everything and everyone that you knew behind. How long do you think it would take you to build a new life? A new community? To feel like you belonged? Obviously, this isn’t really hypothetical, it’s what I just did. And this week passed the 4 month mark since my move from California to Massachusetts, so it seemed like a good point to take stock and consider what I’ve accomplished thus far (a lot) and what I need to keep working on (a lot more).
Since I moved, I’ve started a new job, survived a few tumultuous months of work related uncertainty, been promoted, and taken on far more challenges and responsibilities than I had ever expected to happen, especially in such a short time period. It has not been easy, at all, and there were times when I had my doubts, but I am very happy with the way things have turned out. My career has certainly had its ups and downs in the past decade. Wonderful bosses. Horrible bosses. A lot of stress and strife. Two layoffs, periods of unemployment followed by periods of under employment. Dozens of interviews. So much insecurity. Through it all, I’ve tried to follow my own personal creed for business: work hard, be easy to work with, don’t let your work be defined by your job description, pitch in and do what you can. Sometimes that has worked magnificently. Sometimes it has resulted in abject failure. I still make mistakes and I still have a lot to learn. But finally, I can take great satisfaction and some pride in the fact that I am back on track. It’s a great relief.
I’m a creature of habit and routine, and I’ve started to cement my routine for this new life. I’ve got my car wash, my grocery store, my route to work. I just started house hunting, which is going to be challenging, this is a tight, expensive market, shockingly so even for someone used to pricey California real estate. My weekends are spent much as they always were, running errands, listening to NPR in the car, a nice dinner on Saturday night, usually followed by a recent DVD. It’s not like I was a social butterfly. But I did love meeting up with this friend for breakfast and pedicures, and seeing this friend for 10 minutes at the dog park to catch up. Hanging with my sister and my bff. Going to our favorite sushi spot, or checking out the latest gastro pub opening on Ventura Blvd. Laughing our asses off at nothing, just because.
That’s what I miss the most, that comfort in having people to hang with. Knowing if I got sick, someone would volunteer to run over soup. An invite, that I may or may not accept, to watch the Academy awards. I have made friends here, and I expect to make many more. But you can’t create those relationships that were forged over decades overnight. It’s going to take time to form a circle who “gets me,” especially since there’s a bit of a disconnect between my casual Valley girl ways and the more reserved New England personalities. It’s a tough nut to crack. But I know it will happen.
In the next few months, I will have several visitors from the place I still consider home. First, the bestie comes, and I am literally counting the days. I think I will probably cry when I see her, and will certainly cry when she leaves. Then my parents come, followed by a brother and sister in law. I’ve already had a quick visit from my oldest brother and my niece; it was so wonderful to see them. I’m lining up tours and activities and things to do, but the best part will be just being with my people, the ones who really, really know me, and love me anyway.
I’m proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished so far. I’ve been braver and more adventurous than I ever expected to be. And I’m happy I made the move. It’s a good life, so far. But the adventure isn’t over yet, perhaps it never ends as long as we are alive. I’ll continue to round out this life, fill in the empty cracks with people and relationships and love and laughter. The search for community continues.
The end, for now

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