One year in our new state. Our new town. Our new church.
Compare that to 18 years in the suburbs of Washington D.C., 4 years in college, and 18 years in the suburbs of Chicago.
Years in Beaver. One.
All was great up until last week when I hit a bit of a sink hole and suddenly, without notice, craved our old community desperately. Only, it wasn’t the actual community I was craving, but rather, a glorified version of it.
For example, our block back in Skokie/Evanston rarely did anything together on the 4th. No, to experience the “neighborhood” feel of Independence Day we traveled over to Harper’s elementary school in north Evanston to play neighborhood playground games (sack races, pie eating contests, that sort of thing) with everyone else who actually lived there. We were located across a busy main road – rather than in that particular “sub-division” (if you can call it that) where her school was located. Afterwards, we did the parade. Following the parade, we wandered over to a fantastic cookout hosted by an area family who invited everyone to a backyard food-fest every year.
Only, at those events we only kind of, sort of knew people. Everyone was friendly, (some, too friendly), but it wasn’t as if we spent concentrated social time with these families outside of the 4th – for, honestly, it was a pretty tight-knit community. So, for us, it was a surfacey type of fellowship.
Flash forward to this week.
Suddenly, I wanted that experience back. Why?
I have absolutely no idea.
So, how did I combat such unexpected and unwanted feelings?
We gathered some friends to go downtown for the fireworks, planned a day trip to Laurel Caverns, and then, I decided to actually go sit at the Beaver Pool and strike up conversations with people. One must note that I am not a fan of the Beaver Pool. There aren’t enough chairs, the bathrooms scare me, and I hate paying for stuff. Thankfully, however, a friend and her son and daughter were there, so my kids were quite content splashing away in the pool. Zane showed such a confidence in the water that I was actually able to jump out after a short period while he played with his friend.
I positioned my chair (brought my own) next to an area momlete (mom/athlete) whom I’ve wanted to get to know better. We winded up exchanging phone numbers, setting up a pool date for next week with a couple of kids she watches during the day who happen to be friends with Harper, and then I joined her for a yoga class later that evening. I even introduced myself to a woman who I have now seen at my local “watering holes”: Good-will and SalVal. Not only that, but I actually sat and began reading a new book by John Ortberg, “The Me I Want To Be”. The book is pure therapy and knocked me right back to the present.
Can I say that it feels easier to “break in” here? Even though many have been here for years, (like Evanston), I find myself making friendships more quickly – the kind with depth.
So, after some soul assessing, I realized that the thing I was craving on the hot July 4th day, was not actually what we had in Evanston, but rather, something we desire to have. And to do so, we have begun initiating conversations and relationships. Truthful ones. Real life ones.
Just the other day I was asked how long we would be here.
“We don’t plan on going anywhere. I’d love for the kids to graduate high school here. Really have a childhood home.”
I don’t know what God has in store, but that is my desire. I’d like them to have a sense of putting down “roots” in a neighborhood/community. Of course, God paved the way for this move, so I have no doubt that His hand is completely masterful in designing our paths, but, here, on this day, this is what I desire.
So, I’m out of my funk now. I will continue to meet, gather with, and enjoy my new friendships as we build our life here in Beaver.