I don’t even know how I found this article, but I ended up stumbling across it and something author Jennifer Fulwiler wrote really struck me:
…the average modern woman who is out of the workforce lives her life on a suburban desert island. The nearest family member lives miles (if not thousands of miles) away. She doesn’t know all the people on her street, and not many of them have kids anyway. If she’s like many Americans, she’s moved within the past few years, losing any sense of community she’d built in the last place she lived.
If you have looked at my blog at the shop (which is entirely neglected now, alas…), I mention a few times how much I miss my old neighborhood. I am that dame who works at home, in a suburban desert island. My entire family save one cousin (in Illinois) lives in Michigan; my friends are scattered throughout the country, but none closer than a six- or seven-hour drive; my in-laws live on Alabama’s Gulf Coast and in Cincinnati.
Worst of all, though, we just moved here last summer, spending three months in an apartment and then moving into this house just as school started, the holidays were coming, and winter was expected. I lost every single person I’d gotten to know over five years living in West Virginia—neighbors we’d had over for drinks, neighbors whose parties we’d gone to and front porches we’d sat on and whose recently dead pets we had mourned with them. Neighbors whose backyards I’d sneak into late at night to leave an apronful of freshly picked garden tomatoes or cucumbers on the back porches of; neighbors I’d leave casseroles and cakes for after deaths in their family.
Neighbors who knew I was ill and would come check on and chat with me on days I was so exhausted that I couldn’t walk Ben to the corner and back without stopping to sit beneath the trees on their lawn.
They are some great people.
I miss those people. I miss them a lot.
I miss our vintage home and neighborhood—it really and truly was like Mayberry—but I think it is those front- and back-porch friends I miss the most, because here, we don’t really know our neighbors at all. Maybe it was the bustling season during which we moved here—I surely hope so. But whereas in Weirton I would wave at somebody I didn’t even know driving down the street and get a wave in return, here, even our semi-immediate (across the street) neighbors don’t wave back. It is not helping my sense of loss.
Because it is finally dawning on me: it is a loss I’ve gone through. I lost not just a sense of community, but an entire network of people I care for very deeply, people who were like an extended family to me.
It rather feels like I had my roots pulled up and chopped off.
Of course, spring is here (is it? Or did it pass us by and just give us summer, which is fine?). That means I’ll be spending countless hours outdoors in the gardens, front and back yards, and my hope is that I’ll be able to meet folks (not in my usual vintage cute, but more often than not with dirt smeared on my face and a weed hanging off my shoulder…alas) then, as more neighbors will be out thanks to school being out and the weather being something other than grey, windy, and cold.
At the same time, though, reading that article helped me realize that it is possibly a form of mourning I’m going through. There are a whole bunch of people I was accustomed to seeing and talking to that I don’t get to see at all anymore. So maybe it’s okay to be sad and miss the people I grew so close to.
Anyone else ever experience anything like this? Not sure why it is such an epiphany to me—maybe because I’ve always felt I can “do it myself” and get along on my own. My, what a surprise this has been!
In closing, I’d like to share one of my favourite photos from the neighborhood. It was snapped on a whim as I was balancing on a couple of feet of snow, but I am so glad I have it—it shows our neighbors all digging out after a true blizzard. True to the character of our neighborhood, when folks were done with their own drive and walks, they went to help the other people still working on their own, and then everybody cleared the drives and walks of the people unable to do it for themselves.
It’s not the best picture I’ve ever taken, but it is definitely one of the most precious to me.