As you may know, I am spending a few months in the dormancy of winter, working on a book. And, like last year at this time, I am offering my blog to you. Last year we looked into our Breaking Points and found community and grace in grief and vulnerability. This year we are looking into our past, and finding the weaving of community that stitches us to our present. I will be posting these pieces at These Here Hills. Their authors will be happy to receive and respond to your comments. Here is the blog post I wrote about this subject.
Contest submissions closed. Winner will receive a scholarship to one of my upcoming Haven writing retreats in Montana, announced mid-February…
Now I am further stepping into the wilderness of Montana and the wilderness of writing. If you’d like to create haven for your creativity…come to a Haven Writing Retreat here in Montana. June, August, and September retreats are now booking and filling fast. Email me for more info: Laura@lauramunsonauthor.com
This gem reminds us that home truly is wherever you are. And family is a community that only you define. Please enjoy!
p.s. June Haven writing retreat is now booking and filling fast… Click here for more info.
Long Ago: Community by Pamela Hammonds
If people ask where I was born, I naturally say “Indiana.” But if the question is worded differently, if someone asks, “Where did you grow up?” I’m much more likely to say “Alabama.” This is the story of how I got there.
When I was 20 and a college junior, I said, “I do” to a grad student with more ambition than heart who convinced me that he was the best thing that ever happened to me. Over the next five years, we would move four times and land in a small town in Alabama. When he returned home from work one day and announced yet another job opportunity awaited him in a neighboring state, I had to make a decision. Should I continue to follow someone who doesn’t respect me any more than I do myself? Or stay. For me.
I made one trip out of state to house hunt and became physically ill on my drive home alone. As the house in Alabama went on the market, I summoned the courage to tell him I didn’t want to move again. Although I’ve put much of our short life together behind me, this I remember distinctly. He said: “I made a commitment to my career long before I made a commitment to you and will go with or without you.” Wisely, I said, “Then go.”
As the moving company labeled boxes with “his” and “hers,” I watched a brown cardboard barricade go up between us. With my golden retriever’s heavy head in my lap, I sat on the kitchen floor and wept—too proud to return to Indiana, too scared to stay, too unsure I would survive anywhere.
But I did stay. I found an apartment and a job in the office of the local shopping mall and settled into a life with my pup and uncharted independence. My new boss and his dog, who lived in the same complex, made sure my dog and I walked safely each evening and sometimes invited us over for pizza and a movie. Or just checked in to make sure we were all right.
He wasn’t the only one concerned about my welfare. Many of the mall tenants became dear friends as we worked closely together, preparing for holiday events, summer sales and fashion shows. A couple years later, I would purchase a new white dress and gold bands at that mall and marry that kind man—who happened to be my boss.
When we made the move from two apartments to one house, packing up all our worldly goods—and two dogs—those same friends who worked with us welcomed us into our new home with gifts and good wishes. The bank manager had become my substitute mother and taught me that when life gets hard, bear in mind that “this too shall pass.” Our two sons would call her Mimi, as did all her grandchildren.
We no longer live in small town Alabama. The two babies we had when we lived there are now in college. But my twenty-fifth through thirty-fifth years were spent there. I made a lot of mistakes and missteps, but when it mattered most, I made the right choices. I chose the father of my children in that town. I chose to surround myself with good people like Mimi and Granddaddy, Steve and Claudia, Joel and Elizabeth, Vicki and Tommy and many more people who became family. Who took a scarred and scared 25-year-old into their flock and made her life better.
I haven’t lived in Indiana for nearly thirty years, never returned to live close to my ‘real family.’ But I find that wherever I live—California, Illinois, Texas, Alabama—I’m surrounded by family. People who love me whom I love in return. People who love my children like their own. My people. My family.