Community

I had the most lovely morning/afternoon yesterday, made all the more so by the unexpectedness of it. Creative was having it’s spring garage sale, and I felt like it was important for us to show up and help, especially since there is such a small group of us this year. What I wanted to do that morning was to drive back up to the historic district in McKinney and fantasize about buying a house there, but instead I suited up and showed up at the co-op at 8am, Georgia and Scout in tow. Four hours later, I honestly didn’t want to leave, I was having so much fun. It was this beautiful morning of sharing conversation and food and childcare (all the other moms had their kids as well and several of them brought yummy food to share) and all of us pitching in to be part of something bigger than ourselves, something that we all believe in.

Fundraising events never sound like fun to me, but the truth is, I have enjoyed every single one of them this year. I love feeling part of a community, especially one where it is comfortable and natural to share discipline with other moms – where I can feel totally at ease letting another mom handle a situation that involves one of my kids, and I can just as easily step in to handle a situation with someone else’s kids that erupts in front of me. It was great to be able to get lost in conversation with another adult and know that my kids were safe, that several other pairs of eyes were keeping track of them. I think that dynamic is hard to find in our society and it’s one of the things I love most about the co-op because it fosters that kind of trust and community naturally.

Or at least it does when I’m open to it. I missed out on that feeling of community the two years we were at the co-op with Daryl. I’m sure it’s not because the community wasn’t there for the having, I just didn’t know how to access it, and I don’t think I knew how much I craved it. I was so defensive about my parenting then and so insecure, which of course I tried to cover up by acting aloof and superior. I dodged every responsibility I could and never allowed myself to feel “a part of.” I know the co-op isn’t for everyone. Some people are fine without that sense of community and others find it in other areas of their lives, but for someone who clearly craves community and thrives on it as much as I do, it’s kind of sad to realize how long I did without it.

Working the garage sale also gave me a view into the larger community that I am a part of. I knew several of the people that happened by the sale, a friend from church and then a group of moms that I knew from Daryl’s kindergarten class. We talked with the total strangers who came by, we listened to people’s stories, and some of us dusted off our rusty Spanish. There were three of us there who are pregnant, and I felt part of that community, too. That’s an area of growth for me for sure, as I used to be kind of resentful of women who were pregnant at the same time I was, even total strangers. How dare they encroach my spotlight?!

I still sometimes cheat myself out of community because of fear or because of “grass is always greener” thinking. For years I have honestly believed that if we could just move to the right place, then we would magically be part of a wonderful community of like-minded people and our lives would become wholesome, sweet and idyllic. My latest fantasy involves moving to the historic district in McKinney, like somehow we would start eating more nutritious meals and biking to the library just because of the neighborhood. What I’ve finally realized though, is that I am surrounded by community right where I’m at, that I’ve been slowly creating community around me and our family, sometimes in spite of myself. I don’t have to move anywhere, I can bloom right where I’m planted and enjoy my surroundings. It may not be the place I would have chosen for myself and my family, but time and time again it has been proven to me that my chooser is broken, and so maybe it’s just as well. For today, I’m going to trust that I am right where God wants me to be, and that the community I desire is happening all around me – I just have to tap into it.

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~ by jenzai on May 18, 2008.

5 Responses to “Community”

  1. Hey! Speak for yourself, I brought Tacos to Daryl’s Co-op garage sale…

  2. Duly noted and edited accordingly.

  3. Although I’d love to have you and your family as neighbors up here in the hinterlands of historic McKinney, when you told me where you live now, I wondered why anyone would want to move away from a place where you could walk to good food sources, and be within easy reach of what Dallas has to offer (however little that is compared to other cities I’ve lived in). In truth, I will always miss the little east Dallas community we lived in. But we really needed a house at that point, the neighborhood was slowly being torn down and replaced with gigantic monstrosities, and I needed space for creative experimentation on my own terms. I’m not entirely happy with where I live, except for the house, but we’re also empty nesters and our community needs are small.

    If I had a passel of kids, or if I didn’t have my students, I might be searching for community as well. But you’re absolutely right that when you’ve got like-minded folk around you, and are comfortable and welcome, leaving that behind is not a good idea.

  4. I have been thinking about these ideas, and besides wanting to celebrate with you how you have grown into more community-thinking I find myself wondering how much community depends on physical interaction, too. People talk about “on-line communities” but I wonder if “community” in that sense isn’t a little metaphorical. Isn’t there some degree to which the physical community you find yourself part of is one, like your family, that you can never truly opt out of ? You can choose to withdraw, or to participate in a limited way, but you’re still dealing with what you’re dealt. Online communities seem sort of like friendships, that there is active choosing and maintaining. Maybe I’m just sad because I miss being close to you physically.

  5. OK, I have been searching for a community and more info about the Co-op school but alas, the phone number listed isn’t working. So I venture to the vast internet and find your name on the tab of their website. I am in desperate need of a community such as this. Any help?

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