When Slouching Mom interviewed me, one of her questions implied (asserted?) that I am frequently Hating on Houston. In my answer, I explained the incredibly rocky re-entry we had into Texas. Then I went on to share the positives, as requested. The biggest positive, as you probably gathered from that post, or maybe the big Halloween party post, or the many times I've posted about the good friends and neighbors I have here...is the community.
When I named the topic for this week as a sort of homage to the people in California who've lost so much due to the fires, I paused to think about what I'd grieve deepest about had, for example, that hurricane hit us and washed away our town as the forecasts predicted.
The answer was quick, and easy: I'd miss my community.
When that hurricane was allegedly heading for us and the mandatory evacuation order came out, we began our preparations. We keep the essentials packed in plastic ready-to-go boxes, so it was easy to throw those in the back of the car. But space was limited; unlike most Texans we have small cars. So we only had space for a week's supply of clothing and toiletries for us and the girls, food and water for us and the pets, and the essential papers and photos. The kids got to bring a couple of special toys. We closed the car, looked at our house, and said goodbye to it and everything in it. It was a curious sense of release. It was two weeks before the girls and I returned. During that time, we lived with our few things, and life? Life was simpler, easier. Life was okay.
I realized: we don't need 90% of what we have. It's gratuitous.
I often miss that Spartan existence.
Things...things are just things. We really care about people. People can't be replaced.
So when we drove away, the knot I felt inside me wasn't about my house, my beautiful mission style bedroom suite, or the intricate paintings I'd spent weeks doing in the nursery. I didn't grieve for the clothes or mementos I'd left behind. I had, in my car, all that immediately mattered to me.
No, the knot that twisted tighter and tighter inside of me was grief and anxiety I felt about losing my community.
We were all evacuating to different areas, and I already missed them. When I thought about loss, the loss I worried about was whether we could all return to our town, just as we left it, back together, the community.
Luckily for us, the hurricane hit north instead of dead at our town. Damage was minimal, and everyone was back in place and together within a couple of weeks.
Other communities aren't so fortunate. And I grieve for them, for their loss.
What makes my community so special? I'll tell you a few anecdotes, and hope it gives you a picture of the warmth and friendliness that infuses my tiny town.
When school lets out, the kids flood down the path through the woods that connects to our neighborhood. Neighborhood parents gather in the small parking lot by the pool to gossip and chat while waiting. The kids usually run up with demands falling out of their mouths before they even say hello, "MOM! MOM! Can Insert Friend Name Here come over?!?! PLEASE?!?!" The answer is usually yes. We are fairly casual and laid back, here. Yesterday, for example, my good friend had about four families over. We don't clean, freshen the air, or bake snacks in advance. We gather in the living room, shifting laundry baskets from sofas, and entertain one another while children---so many moving so fast you can't count---run and play.
If no "official" gathering happens, kids linger near windows listening for the tell-tale shrieks of other kids. As soon as they hear it, they beg to run outside. There are children next door, children across the street, children all around.
They ride bikes in the cul-de-sac, run from backyard to backyard, or front to front. Sometimes a small voice will yell to me, "We're going to play inside So-and-So's house, Mom!"
And I'm okay as long as that parent is okay...we know each other well enough that we feel comfortable.
Adults often do this, too...spontaneously gather for socialization. Someone is in the front yard, someone else walks up to chat, next thing you know, half a dozen people have gathered and decided to pool resources for grilling. Someone always has margarita fixings, beer or wine. If not, the small locally-owned market is just around the corner.
But we plan fun events, too. We have couples date nights, Halloween parties, new year's eve parties, block parties, girl's night out, the big awesome Christmas open house where we hop from house party to house party, the spontaneous after parties that might involve table dancing at certain neighbor's house, holiday festivals in our water side park, and on and on.
If I need a friend to pickup one of my kids, I know I can call on any number of people, and can count on them. I have friends who will watch my kids when I go to the doctor, shop, or need a minute to breathe.
Today I had a friend who came shopping with me just because I wanted company.
I've lived long enough and in enough places to know how valuable this is. I know you don't find yourself living in a town surrounded by not just neighbors, but friends.
My children bloom here.
So hate the weather as I do---and come every May through August at least, you can easily find me hating it up about the ozone, being sick, hating heat, and suffering major cabin fever that has us house hunting in Vermont---and the politics, and some elements of the culture...I love my immediate community.
Next week's topic: Your Name: The Soundtrack. Music. Hearing a song on the radio can flash me back to a specific moment in time. I always laugh whenever I hear Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard because it makes me think of my sister and the two of us goofing off. There are songs I like when I'm happy, songs I like when I'm not. Music. What does it mean for you, in your life? Do you simply listen? Are you a singer? A musician? Were you one? The topic is simply: what role does music have in your life? (Thanks to Emily at Wheels on the Bus for this topic idea!)
Here's the new twist for post submissions: add yourself!
You can link your main URL or your post-specific URL. If you'd like, you can rehost the list on your blog. Just grab the code or ask me and I'll send it to you.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me. Thanks!
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products