Today is one of those days where I finished everything I MUST do, and now I have the rest of the day free with nothing planned. I will go to yoga tonight, I hope, but until 7pm, I’m free to fret over what could be done. I have a list of things to accomplish – a little clean-up, a letter to write, etc – but what I most want to do today is spend time with people. Here is where I’m stuck – I have no people to spend time with.
I’m not feeling sorry for myself or really complaining – this is just the place I am in at this point in my life. I live in a new city where I know few people; most of my good friends are at least two hours away; my colleagues (who are also friends) are frantically preparing for the semester that starts tomorrow. I am – by the grace of God – actually caught up and aching to spend real, quality time with people. I want community.
So I signed up for Meetups in an attempt to get to know more people here. I think this is a great system – where people get together around like interests – but I guess I also think it’s a little sad that we need it. Not to wax too nostalgic here, but how did people get to know people twenty years ago? Or were people lonely then, too?
I just finished reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeline L’Engle, and I was struck by the way her community gathered around her when her mother died. People dropped everything to be with her at the time. People brought food. Her family gathered close. This strikes me as real community. I know these types of relationships take time, and I am very blessed to have some good friends who will, really, drop their lives to help me if I need them. But still, I wish I was in a place where I could see them without that desperate need from one of us.
Dave and I were talking about this some this weekend because I have found myself relying so much on him for everything (an unhealthy thing for sure), and I asked him whether he thought it made a difference whether or not you were in the country or city or suburbs when looking for community. I thought, maybe, that the country or city were more optimal locations, but he told me how his friends in his suburban neighborhood used to get together often. So I have been rethinking my stance, and have decided that my thought that “community happens somewhere else” is my own unwillingness to make the effort to make community where I am. Hence, the Meetup groups.
So today, I will probably spend most of the day alone, but I’m going to try to do something small to help the community I am in – as Dr. King preached. I am going to go out and pick up trash on my street. It’s a small thing, but maybe I’ll meet someone. Maybe I won’t, but it will be something that I am doing for my place – this little street in Baltimore where I hope to build my community.