Community = Comfort

There’s no denying it: I’m a homebody. In high school, my friends would say, “I can’t wait to get out of here!” or “I’m leaving and never coming back to this town!” and I just couldn’t identify with that.

Of course, I had the urge to spread my wings and be independent, but I loved my little corner of Central Pennsylvania!

College took me away for a few years, and I found myself in an entirely new community, but that’s a post for another day. Even when I got a teaching job near my college and about 45 minutes away from my hometown, I still moved back. The long commute gave me a chance to savor my coffee in the morning and chat with relatives on the drive home. (On a hands-free cell phone, of course!)

The point is this: I was comfortable in my familiar surroundings. My job and other aspects of my life forced me out of my comfort zone, but living in an area with which I was acquainted gave me such a sense of peace and belonging.

I grew up in a stereotypical small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business. My summers were spent swimming in the community pool and consuming atrocious amounts of Swedish fish with my friends during the adult swim. I suffered through a few seasons of softball, but made some pretty great memories with my teammates on the bench. (I use the term “suffered” because I never played organized sports until I was about twelve, and let me tell you, coordination doesn’t just magically appear during the teenage years! As if that stage wasn’t awkward enough….but I digress.)

One of my first jobs was at a local restaurant and ice cream shop. I started out as an ice cream scooper (how glamorous!), but soon learned the fine art of waitressing and was practically running the place when I left.

The best part about this restaurant was that it was the type of place that attracted “regulars”. I got to serve the same folks on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis and developed wonderful relationships with some of them over the three years that I worked there. Two of my favorites were a father and son who came in every Wednesday for ice cream. The son had developmental disabilities and having a routine was very important to him. They were so friendly and I looked forward to Wednesdays because they were such a blessing to me! Would you believe, more than ten years later, I ran into them at our local grocery store? I was able to tell them that I still had the talking picture frame they gave me when I left to finish college and got to introduce them to my daughter. My heart was filled with such joy that day! How I love my little community!

Obviously, not everyone can stay in the same place forever. People constantly have to uproot their lives and make their way in a new community because of jobs or family. Fortunately for me, that has not been the case. I am one blessed lady to be able to start my own family in a place that I feel so connected to!

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12 comments on “Community = Comfort

  1. Dad (Stephen Sands I) says:

    Katie, what a great post. Thanks for sharing. It is like I can hear your sweet voice as I read your words. Glad you are blogging and look forward to ‘hearing’ more of them. Blessings. Liz’s Dad

  2. Amanda Herrold says:

    Great post!! It’s funny to compare my life story…as you have always lived in central PA and I never thought I would live here!! Haha! I can’t wait to read more!!
    Amanda

  3. Melissa says:

    I’m a townie too. Grew up 1 mile from whete we are now. Can totally relate. Even with your summer pool experience. 🙂

  4. elizabeth says:

    Katie,
    When Jonathan read this, he was like, “This sounded exactly like you, except for the fact that you don’t live in your hometown.” He was referring to the Swedish fish, suffering through softball, being a homebody, waitressing, loving the regular customers. I guess there’s a reason we’re friends. 🙂
    Liz

  5. Marjorie says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I too, lived all my 74 years in the same area. Knew many and had many friends. Most of my relatives lived there too. I married, had two girls and continued to live in the familiar community. Eight yrs. ago, we sold our home and moved to Georgetown, Ky., a new community. Have made many new friends. I love my new community. Still learning about ways I can become more involved in the community.

  6. Darla says:

    I love that you don’t know who wrote the blog until the end. I, too, Jonathan, thought the blog was Elizabeth. Katie, I spent my summers at the community pool in a small town in Kansas, but we didn’t have Swedish fish—what the heck are Swedish fish? I agree that being acquainted and familiar with a place or persons can bring a sense of peace and belonging, if it is mostly a healthy experience. I spent my first 16 years in the same community and it was mostly a positive experience. I’ll never forget someone driving by in a car while I was swinging on the cemetery fence and calling me by my name and telling me to get down because I was breaking the wire fence down. Never could figure out who that was, but felt known and somehow protected. Anyway, I have lived in three different states since the age of 16 and several different communities in each of those states. I believe a sense of belonging and connectedness is very important to our well-being. I found that to be easier in some communities than others and really don’t know why. I am now in a community that has brought me the greatest sense of belonging, connectedness, and peace that I have ever experienced. Well, except for that one to God—the ultimate connection and sense of being loved. Really looking forward to future posts.

    • Katie says:

      Darla, thanks for the encouraging words! I love your point about God being our ultimate connection – so true! Swedish fish are red gummy fish; a pool concession stand staple 🙂 There’s even a Swedish fish Rita’s Italian Ice flavor!

      • Darla says:

        Thanks for explaining. Our concession stand staple was a fudgsicle bar/chocolate ice cream bar.

  7. Olivia says:

    We all know the reason we went to the pool was for the Swedish fish…AND we were always excited to find out they over counted the number, and got more than what you paid for! 🙂

  8. Katie says:

    Wow! Thanks, everyone, for your positive responses! If you know me, you know that writing is not my favorite pastime. However, I thought it would be good for me to go out of my comfort zone and be a little more intentional in thinking about and reflecting on my “community” experiences!
    By the way, thinking my post was from Liz at first is the ultimate compliment!! 🙂

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