This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Girl's Community

I decided, just now, that this is the year of "The New Girl" for me.  I've been the new girl in town since Thanksgiving '09.  The new girl at work since March.  The new girl in the family and on the block.  In August I'll bring my new-self to Black Rock City and see what neighborhood community I can create and find myself in there.  I guess I'll come home a bit new to myself too. 

If Black Rock City is a hive, it’s always been participants who make its honey. Tell us about the life on our streets as you have experienced it. What does it really take to make a neighborhood? (Burning Blog)
One of the recent mental blog posts I've spun includes vignettes revolving around the new people I've met.  There are questions that come up, such as, can I really talk about my sex life with my 60+ year old neighbor friend? and Is joining a bowling league really the best option for meeting folks in the area?

Determining the best ways to build community in my new life has been quite a process, one that I am still getting the reigns on.  Yoga is bringing me together with other people, as are shared sexualities.  What has been hardest for me is seeing where I can create community and determining how much effort I want to put forth.  I could join in with the town's groups like the library's adult book group or the master gardener's group.  I could work myself into political campaigns for Belfair's improvement.  The fear that the people comprising these groups would have decades on me and not much in common to share beyond the one group focus has kept me at bay.  I suppose I don't want to compartmentalize my social output.  If I'm giving to a person, I guess would rather be able to give my all to them, and not have to worry if I've casually dropped the wrong personal detail while pulling blackberry vines up. 

I guess it's like most things, as easy or as difficult as I want it to be.  I so often get hung up on my version of the ideal that I don't realize that there are some imperfect, but plausible options available at hand and that one thing often leads to the other...whereas nothing leads to nothing.

Looking at the aerial view of Black Rock City just now stirred in me that longing for busy streets and loud neighborhoods.  There's a cozy feeling to what I imagine in a neighborhood, even though I remember having had a tough time making community for myself in Chicago.  What I got, in the end, did wind up being what I espouse to be my ideal.  I had a loosely knit, non-linear set of friends and lovers with whom I felt completely at ease.  That satisfied me, as well as surprised me.  I have never been one to join a group simply, so at my going away party, when a friend remarked on the fact that my friends were from all over and not from one group, I just smiled.  I feel somewhat sheepish about it, like I have some "lone wolf" syndrome.  Sometimes I'm called "cool" and it seems so odd to me.  It seems to be this outcome of something that can feel very much like a struggle at times.

We threw our first party together over this weekend.  Our new, local friends brought several friends with them.  They were a tight knit group, dancing and singing to loud '80s music without abandon.  They had stories of naked jokes and the rambunctious, improv leader's antics.  I mentally remarked to myself at how close they all seemed.  It felt intimidating to me.  When two were engaged in conversation, I found myself floating up, noticing there was conversation happening "already" and trying to invisibly float away to something more "openly accessible" to me.  What an old habit!  I can consciously break myself from it when I intend to, but sometimes without intention I float around, like my favorite Neko Case lyric, "hanging round the ceiling half the time."

There was a couple also, at the party, and I sometimes feel my patience tried by them.  I remember telling myself to be like the nicest, most well-liked kid in high school would be (in my imagination again): that is to say, inclusive, open minded, gentle, and humorous.  I remind myself to be malleable and kind, to turn a laughing heart instead of a scornful eye.

My own head is where the most harsh judgments come, which is probably a good explanation of my behaviors.  My inner monologues can be rigid, exacting and unforgiving.  They can close me off to the softer and, I think, better natures of the world in which we all have tolerance for one another.  A community in which we can borrow an egg from our neighbor as easily as we can hear her animated stories.

image info:  
Black Rock City from above, detail
Gabe Kirchheimer
Email Gabe Kirchheimer

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