I remember the day vividly.
When we moved here seven years ago, we were advised to not worry about not getting connected from the start. We were told once our kids got into school, we'd find our "niche" in the community.
Just give it time.
You'll feel a part of the community.
However, I didn't believe "them," as I was a town kid, and in order to feel a part of a community, one needed to live in that community. Like, live IN the TOWN, where there are sidewalks, and friends, and places to ride a bike, and...gasp...neighbors.
That was seven years ago, and until this weekend, I still believed that until I had an address that didn't take up three lines on an envelope, I would never, ever feel like I belonged in my community. Because, where is it, anyway? (I've alluded to this before.) My jealousy of town-livers was raging hard as back-to-school approached. Most of my friends are in a neighboring town, one where my kids don't go to school. As they talked about their kids' teachers, who their kids played with, I wondered who in the world I'd have those conversations with. I had lived here for seven years, and I still went to Open House at school, feeling like a new parent.
Where do I belong? Who do I know? Why don't I have a neighbor to drink coffee with, without having to make dust on my crummy country road...which is another post for another day.
Anyway, back to this weekend. For the second weekend in a row, our tiny town of Yates City (not Farmington, which, although tiny in comparison to any urban area, is the bigger town...but that's confusing) had another community event. The Harvest Home Festival was the weekend prior, and, in the grand tradition of festivals around here, was complete with a baby contest, 5K run, pork chop lunch, kiddie and adult tractor pull, and enough carnival rides to make you want to lose your pork chop lunch.
It was a glorious weekend, weather-wise (even though we could use a rain, but that is another post...perhaps I need to post more?), so we had a great time. We ran the 5K, we ate our pork chops, the kids pulled tractors, and the adults worked the food tent.
All the while, we were making connections.
Amidst the distribution of hot dogs and cooking chops, Joe and I were among the people.
We were asking questions about 4-H and getting to know those who might not be close enough to share a property line with, but have kids who ride the same bus, pass the same sites on the way to work, and our in our community. It just looks different from what I'm accustomed to.
Then came this weekend.
On Saturday, our little fire department, along with the neighboring community's fire department, put on a really great fire safety day for the kids. And, while it was orchestrated perfectly, and included events that could quite possibly have made my son's year (what two year old doesn't want to squirt a fire hose or honk the fire truck's horn, all the while wearing a new fire hat, waiting for the LifeFlight Helicopter to land?), we were out, and about, amongst our community members. Many were the same as last weekend, but some were new friends: teachers of our kids, country neighbors, and town friends.
I came home and took a deep breath.
I'm not discounting my dear, dear friends in the neighboring town. Amy, Kathleen, Rachel, Katie (to name a few)...all you peeps are invaluable to me, but at a a football game, I'll always be wearing purple and gold, and sitting on the other side. Knowing that I finally belong in a community, finally know teachers, finally will have some idea of who to sit by if I ever get to sit down at a softball game is life changing.
I know I'll still have moments when I feel like an outsider, and I'll always have those junior high-esque doubts at whether or not I'll really ever fit in, but at least for now, I am starting to feel like this place is home. We have some roots. Our kids have friends, we have friends, and that day, seven years ago, when I was at my loneliest, that person was right.
Give it time.
Time is valuable when making connections, and I'm thankful to have finally made them, even if it was while wearing a pair of plastic gloves and doling out pork chops, or squirting the fire hose.