Wednesday, April 6, 2011

rooted

I've lived in the same place for over 8 years now--a record for me. Growing up, we consistently moved every 4 years or so. I was always The New Girl, a visitor passing through, ignorant of longstanding traditions or inside jokes. When people asked Where are you from? I never knew whether to say the town where I was born or the town where I lived before this one. (Don't pity me, though. The up-side was comfort in knowing if I hated a place we wouldn't be there long. Unlike my classmates, I had the advantage of figuring out my exit strategy before I started middle school.) My college years were a shuffle of dorm rooms and sublet apartments, I leased living space through my first teaching jobs. Then Mr. D and I lived in an apartment before buying our starter house where we lived for 7 years. Eight years ago we built this house and I was the New Girl in Town one more time.

Yesterday Mr. D picked me up for lunch and voting. In our small town, there's never a line to vote and we can grab sandwiches and coffee at the local family restaurant in a half hour or less. But now we're locals and what should've taken half an hour took almost an hour--because we kept stopping to talk to people. People know us, know our names, have shared experiences with us and share this section of the map we now call home. What really struck me was how I talked to these different people--one conversation was about a book, another about the artist and the mural at Happyland Elementary, another about my sons' favorite babysitter. Tied in different ways to various people living in the same place.

We're local, we belong. Let me tell you, it feels pretty good to feel connected to the people in my neighborhood.

Spill it, reader--what's a sure sign that you belong?

17 comments:

  1. It's funny how in our old town (where I had some of the same h.s. teachers as my parents!), I was the one that everyone knew....now in this town (and we've been here for 10 stinkin years) I'm known as Jim's wife! At first it bugged me, but I kind of like not having everyone and their brother know everything about me ;)

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  2. I don't know... Maybe it's the lady two doors down who brought homemade bread over in February just to say hello and that she'd been thinking of us, or the fact she waves when she's outside and I drive by. I can stop and chat with her and the other young mothers and they are genuinely interested in what I have to say or what is going on with Ron's health. These are all newcomers to the neighborhood; the ones who've lived here for a while I still don't really know.

    Now, we're leaving and we'll be the new kids on the block (LOL - literally, since we'll be the youngest couple in our six-plex).

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  3. * You have a tolerance for the Spanish language or even speak a little yourself
    * You're not in a rush
    * Cashiers and local business proprietors recognize you and chat you up. How are the kids?
    * If you're in line behind a person, and the cashier is chatting them up, you really don't mind
    * You give directions with the landmarks of where things usedto be: "...take a left up by where the old Albertson's was..."
    * You know all the good, obscure shortcuts driving across town

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  4. I had the same upbringing, moving every 3-4 years. I hated it. Now I have lived here for 8 years and love running into people I know...it still feels strange to me but I like it. I think I always craved the feeling of belonging.

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  5. I suspect we are in agreement that it's well worth the extra time to get simple things done when it means a chance to be neighborly and to experience the belonging that goes with being part of a community.

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  6. Even though I live in a 'burb of a major metropolitan area, I still can't go into my local grocery (or any store in my little town) without running into people I know. Usually a buncha people. And it's good to know folks who are somebody - police, the DA, our elected officials, etc.

    I ws very mobile growing up - moved 10 times by the time I was 8 - so I have craved stability. We've lived in this community 25 years, and I've lived the metro area for 38.

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  7. To belong around here one must
    - become a die-hard fan of the local football team.

    - give directions by saying, "Do you know where the Shop 'n' Save used to be? turn there."

    I do not really belong. And that's sort of okay with me.

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  8. Everyone asks you to help....because they know you'll say yes...which is a good thing most of the time :)

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  9. You are like me--someone who wasn't rooted who is giving their children deep roots.

    I have my fingers crossed that Kloppengburg's lead holds.

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  10. We've been here 11 years but I'm still not sure how local I feel.

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  11. Love that! It's always nice to feel like you're a part of something, you know?

    A sure sign I belong is feeling totally at ease with whoever I'm with.

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  12. I've been here a year and a half. Today, I rode my bike around to do errands, and waved and said 'Hi! Yes, it IS a beautiful day!' to the lady in the corner shop and her husband, the man who sells 'Big Issue' outside the grocery, a passing taxi driver who often takes my gran shopping with me. Strolled through the park to the bank, and noticed a NEW flower bed and alas, they have trimmed some of the trees. Someone in a store asked, "Where is Gran today?" So many familiar faces now!

    Spring is a good time to feel local.

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  13. You're asked to volunteer. Over and over again. I definitely belong. :)

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  14. love this...it's so good to be in a place like that. i mean, that's what makes somewhere home right?

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  15. Oh, that's a good question. I'm not sure. Maybe spontaneously calling a place "home"?

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  16. I don't really feel rooted. We moved a lot when I was a kid--I went to three different kindergartens. I live in a very unfriendly city and have never felt like I belonged here. But now, when we visit the city I grew up in, I no longer belong there either.

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  17. Yep, I've been in this state almost 10 years!! Wow.

    And we all vote by mail. It's awesome. No lines. Ever.

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Spill it, reader.