Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Finding Community

I have been in Central Florida now for roughly 9 months or so.  Give or take.  Being away from every single person I know, and thrown into a completely new environment has been a struggle to say the least.  The culture here, though I wouldn't expect it do be, is vastly different from that of the friendly Midwest.  You don't talk to strangers because it might piss them off, and you definitely don't honk the horn at someone for a traffic infraction, because they might shoot you, or at least they get scary enough that you think they might.  All of the neighbors hibernate all summer long, the exact opposite of the Midwest, and you might see them during the winter when the weather cools down, but there are no guarantees.  So where does that leave someone that thrives on strong friendships?  I definitely don't know, but if you figure it out, please send me the info.  I'd love to have the in on that.

Perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but people do tend to keep to themselves way more than in Illinois.  In the short time we've been here, the two families that we've become friendly with have either already moved, or will be soon.  I've never seen such a transient and diverse mix of people all shoved into one region, but I can tell you that its really lonely for someone so used to a mix of friends, some that span decades and live within a 30 minute drive, to friends made within the last 5 years that served as a life raft through pregnancy. They fed me with more than food as I struggled through postpardum depression and a traveling husband.  What do you do when you feel like a huge part of you is missing? 

I'm still trying to work that one out.  I've joined a playgroup and I go to church, but everything here just feels so vastly different.  People are more guarded, and that leaves me more introverted.  Its really like a Catch 22.  I don't want to latch on to the first person that invites me for coffee, but at the same time, I'm so used to having a bestie in close proximity.

All that to say, I'm really not as unhappy here as I had anticipated.  Lonely sometimes, yes.  But miserable, no.   I'm looking for ways to meet people all the time, and I'm trying to be authentic with people that I meet, so that connections can be fostered that are genuine.

I'm reading a fantastic book called Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, and so many times as I've scoured a page, I find tears welling in my eyes as I am overwhelmed with the feeling that someone gets it.  Someone knows that ache for little ones that felt communal, loved like one of your own that are now across the country.  Someone knows the sadness of hearing happy news that's happening worlds away, as life goes on in another place and you find yourself where you are, though its not where you want to be. She understands how eating with others can feed the body but ignite the soul. Live is ever changing, and its easy to forget that its still happening where you are, as much as its happening for everyone else back home. For now I am still hopeful that things will come together and that we'll find our niche in community that we can both contribute to and benefit from.  Until then I'll absorb myself in books and reach out when it seems appropriate.  For now my new best friends are authors I never had time to uncover when I was working. 

Currently Reading:  Bittersweet
Currently Eating: Vegetarian Pumkin Chili
Current Favorite Quote:  "It doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen the moment you decide to make the call or show up at the group.  But I'm finding that its there waiting for you in all sorts of unexpected places, that when you do what you love with people who love the same thing, something is born into your midst and begins to connect you"  Shauna Niequist

1 comment:

Jean said...
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