My best friend moved away today.
If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, you know what it means when I say that she is my person. The one who gets me. And I get her. And now she’s gone.
My husband and I spent our first five years of marriage in Ithaca, the home of both Cornell University and Ithaca College. By nature of it being a college town, there was a large transient population. Nearly all of our close friends were students of some kind, destined to move away eventually.
So when we moved to our current tiny town, we expected that the transience would stop and we’d settle into some life-long friendships. People, this is a town where there are still folks living on the roads that are named after their ancestors. There’s a lot of loyalty to this place, and some pretty impressive family trees. For example, there is a family in our church which has four generations of attenders.
And yes, there's a road named after them.
Community can be defined different ways, and I consider my extended family, friends who live on the other side of the world, and even people I only know on the Internet to be parts of my community.
But there is something about the people
you can touch, eat with, and live with.
Video chat is amazing but it’s not the same as being able to hug someone or talking face to face.
We live in a compound in Saudi Arabia. My tangible community is limited to the people in the compound or people my husband Stephen meets at work. It is very easy to only spend time with people I like and simply avoid anyone else. I cannot drive here (no women are allowed to drive), so I only go out with my family, in a taxi we’ve arranged with friends or on the compound bus for a weekly grocery trip. Being on the bus is the only time I have to interact with people I haven’t specifically chosen to be with.
My neighbor Ashley and I organized a multi-family yard sale back in April, which took place in my yard, since it’s on a corner and is pretty spacious. Folks from church stopped by, folks we didn’t know stopped by, and our neighbors stopped by. An old man picked through my VHS collection because he thought it was an incredible deal that I was selling 4 for 25 cents each or 10 for $1. (Think about it.) I sold three giant boxes of books for dirt cheap to a woman whose son has a brain disease and reads voraciously all day. I let three shy little daughters of a non-English speaking mom into my house to use the bathroom. I learned that people are more likely to buy furniture–even old, icky furniture that we picked up years ago alongside the road (and blogged about it)–if you put a $3 price on it, rather than Free. For real.
I have been on a less-is-more trajectory for some time now, and it felt good to go through our house and ask honestly whether we needed particular items. The answer to “Could we make due without this?” is nearly always yes, by the way. In fact, sometimes I think I’d be happiest living in one of those 348 square feet apartments from the IKEA showroom.
And then sometimes I don’t.