A little more than a year ago, I moved to a small town from an urban center. Although the actual distance involved was about a 45 minute drive, the change has been much more dramatic. Fountain Hills, my new hometown, is a community. Now, as I say this I realize that everyone’s experience is different, and just because I’ve discovered a community here doesn’t mean that everyone would have the same experience. But for me, I think am finding my community here.
I felt like an outsider at first. People were polite but not really interested in me beyond the initial friendly hello’s, etc. I didn’t have any friends in the area and would drive back to my old part of town to see people I knew. But over time that changed.
Would you really want to be part of a community that simply welcomed everyone immediately into their inner circles? It takes time to develop friendships, to separate those who will be permanent acquaintances from those who become part of your inner circle.
One secret for discovering your community? Get out there. Take advantage of open social events, volunteer, be friendly, and say hi. One thing that made a difference for me right away was having a dog. She needed walking at least several times a day. It’s hard to hide in your home when you have a dog. And initially I did feel like hiding in my home. I’m over it now.
Night before last, I went to the library’s star night gathering. Three or so times a year the library sponsors an evening with astronomers – professional and amateurs – who bring telescopes and share the sky with anyone who wants to come. Last time I was a guest and was pleased to find out that I knew a half-dozen people there. My community was starting to develop. This week I was there early as a volunteer and ended up taking videos of the evening.
I knew more than a few people there – and this time as friends rather than “say hi” acquaintances. I also met a potential new friend – someone who just moved here from New England – a writer like me – and took the first steps to pull her and her husband into the community. People did it for me when I moved here, and so I believe in paying it forward.
Have you found your community yet? I think I’ve found mine.