Homeward bound.

Dear friends,

I was digging through the archive last night for today’s encore presentation and I tripped across a post I wrote three years ago about home.

It’s a sweet post, full of my particular brand of nostalgia, but what stopped me in my tracks was a comment from my reader and bloggy friend Sizzle. She wrote: Neighbors can become like family in that way. I can’t wait to own a home and settle in and have a neighborhood that is mine.

Well guess what? She did it! Just last weekend. Click here to read “Tales from the Big Move.”

Dontcha just love happy endings?

With gratitude {for dreams come true},

Joan,who wishes her longtime reader Sizzle (and her fiance, Mr. Darcy) a very happy homecoming

Homeward bound.

First published August 19, 2009

And every stranger’s face I see
reminds me that I long to be
homeward bound.
                     — Paul Simon

Three years ago next month I moved back to my hometown after more than 20 years of adult life spent in cities that — while sometimes enjoyable, fascinating, affordable, charming, or convenient — never felt like home.

I moved back to Mayberry not sure what to expect after so many years away, but certain of one thing: I’d know my neighbors.

I didn’t expect to like them all — who does? — but I expected to feel connected.  And life in my little town hasn’t disappointed, even when individuals have.  Despite one moment of uncertainty the first week we moved back when I experienced a what-have-I-done? panic attack at — of all places — the grocery store, I’ve done my best to savor and cultivate what it means to be a part of a community.

I’ve dropped in to check on friends who are having a rough time; I’ve offered meals to anybody I thought needed or would enjoy the hospitality; I’ve hosted a variety of gatherings in my home; I’ve welcomed kids of all stripes through our doors in the hope they’d find something welcoming and nurturing here.

This is nothing special, of course.  It’s what neighbors do.  I remark on it only because I lived for so many years in anonymous urban and suburban environments where sprawl and fear and privacy fences inhibited eye contact, much less meaningful connections.

And so now I live here and — despite my nostalgia and tendency to romanticize everything — I admit life isn’t perfect in Mayberry and neither are its citizens.  We’re human.  We draw judgments when we should refrain from an expedient conclusion, turn a cold shoulder when we should offer a warm embrace, share gossip when we should point out the honorable, forget to give the benefit of the doubt, and occasionally throw the baby out with the bath water.

But we also mow each others’ lawns, watch out for each others’ children, extend kindness and civility to those across the sidewalk or the counter, share the bounty of our gardens, and try to remember that community means our common destiny extends to the fellow next door as well as the fellow across town, to the fellow of privilege as well as the fellow on the margin.

We are neighbors.  We infuriate each other and we adore each other.  It’s a glorious tussle of virtue and frailty that defines our community and binds us, home to home, soul to soul.