Sunday, October 17, 2010

Community...I Want One

For those of you readers living around me in my beautiful, coastal town...fear not!  I totally realize that I have a community here--and a damn good one at that.  It's pumpkin festival time here again and even though the traffic sucks, the vibe is delicious and fills me with the warmest of fuzzies.  I love this little town.  I love how excited my children (well, I'm making assumptions for M here) get when they pass by all of the pumpkin patches.  I love the pumpkin weigh-off and the small town parade.  I love my friends.  I have such wonderful friends in my life here; friends who always have my back when I need them, who are always up for a wine playdate with the kiddos, and who listen to me when I just need to talk.  Of the latter, I sometimes wonder why or how they can possibly want to keep calling me or inviting me to things.  Sometimes I annoy myself with my autism talk.  So, thank you, beautiful friends, for continuing to like me.  No matter where the wind takes my family down the road, I sincerely hope you are still a part of my journey!

But back to the part about wanting a community...we move around a lot.  It's totally by choice, too, since the other half and I are apparently each tainted with a wee bit of gypsy blood.  A good friend often jokes that we must be a part of the witness protection program.  I've mentioned it before, but at 30 months now, this is the longest we have lived in one house since either of us started college back in, um, 1992.  That's a lot of packing and unpacking boxes...and a lot of never really getting settled in your space.  I'm tired of not knowing where I am supposed to be.  It's not that I don't still have the desire to experience new places--I absolutely do--but I am getting to a point in life where I realize that I am holding back a bit of myself because I don't know how long I will live here.  Sure, I totally realize that I should just go ahead and volunteer for the festival since I am a member of this community at present, but it's almost like that's a tiny bit more of myself I am afraid to invest because all of the people around me seem so sure of where their place in this world is.  I'm sure that sounds absolutely ridiculous.  It sounds ridiculous to me just typing it.  I guess I am having trouble finding the right words to truly describe how I'm feeling.

Another problem is the other half.  I have made a promise to him that I wouldn't ever bad mouth him on this blog--and I haven't--but I will say that our personality differences in this regard do make finding (and loving) a community a bit more challenging.  Volunteering isn't something that is important to him. (Though he has been the most amazing soccer coach for teams he didn't have a child on in the past)  Finding lifelong friends other than the ones he's had since high school and college is also not particularly important to him.   I need a village, he does not.  I suppose that's the yin and yang of so many relationships, but I find that aspect of our marriage to be the most difficult.  I find myself going to things with only B.  M's disability makes outings like yesterday's parade a bit more challenging.  And the fact that we hung out in an open backyard of a friend's home for six hours...well, that would never have worked if M was there, unfortunately.  Our family is often divided as I am aware so many autism family's are.  But I think that the other half's lack of desire to be a part of this community makes it all that much easier to leave him at home with M while B and I explore and create lasting friendships.

The question of where to live for the long haul haunts me daily.  What if there isn't a place that truly suits our entire family's needs? I have a sense that if we moved back to our hometown where my wonderfully helpful in-laws live that the other half might perk up a bit and want to have friends over for cookouts and family get togethers.  But that would be because it's his friend and family base...his comfort zone we'd be returning to.  As much as I love these people dearly and know that I would forge a wonderful life there, I fear losing a tiny bit more of my own wants.  I love the California lifestyle.  I love how easy going people are here about the way others look.  (I noticed this even more on a recent trip back to Austin where they used to be relaxed in the way the women look, but more and more seem to be losing that sense)  I love the weather here.  I love the ocean and the mountains and the trees.  I love that I live in a small town where I see at least one person I know (and like) every time I go to the store.  And on the other side of the coin, I love watching my children play with their cousins back on the mother ship.  I love that my sister-in-law. K, loves M (and, of course, B) with all the love she has for her own children, and that she would be an amazing support for us were we to move back.  I love that it costs a hell of a lot less to live on the mother ship than it does here.  And I especially love knowing that if the time comes for M to live in some sort of an assisted facility (gulp) that there would be family back there who could visit him.

Sometimes I am right on board with the other half to say 'screw it' to all of those worries and just pick up the family and move abroad.  For example, Switzerland has AMAZING services for children with disabilities as well as the cleanest overall environmental qualities.  And sometimes I think we just need to find a different town here in California that fits the bill a bit better in terms of schooling and commute time for the other half.  But will we be in this same position in 30 months after settling down there?  So many questions that I suppose no one can really answer for me.

I need to do a better job at living in the present, but my head sometimes just won't allow it.


starnes family said...

Holy cow, we have so much in common. Blake and I have been called gypsies, too. And, us moving out here to California with no jobs/prospects only confirmed their theories! But, life is too short not to live where you love. We are in LOVE this coastal life. Not sure I could go back to another version.

I'm just getting to know your family (where is the mother ship?), but wished we lived closer!!!!! We would embrace your babies. We would!

And, our husbands have lots in common. I, too, have to push him out the door to find friends. We love to entertain and he does, too......but he's just not that great at connecting.

I also have held back in different towns knowing it wasn't "the one". We've owned and rented and I'm always hesitant to embrace neighbors when we're renting. Seems temporary. But, we're trying!

If you ever need a sounding board, email me. I'm all ears.

Rhea said...

Wow. Your blog entry sure hit home for me. We moved from coastal CA to coastal RI a few years ago in search of a better fit for the family, especially our son. I am still struggling to create our community and it falls squarely on my shoulders (is it a mom thing?). I need it so desperately and feel the void more acutely than my husband.
I have made baby steps in the right direction but dang, it is hard work. I wish you luck in your journey to find your community, and embrace the moment.

If you find the secret, please let me know.

Amber said...

I'm with you on this one. Michael and I often talk about moving to Switzerland or just around the world during the junior high years. I've moved around a lot too, but I seem to throw myself into the community and then desperately miss each one when I leave it. No point really, just commiseration.
And I want to mention that I know of a small town very near the mothership, with a great community, where I just happen to live...Just sayin'.

Nicole English said...

Its good to know that I am not the only one like this:)
Its funny reading this today as I am feeling very unsettled