It Takes a Village

Posted on | September 10, 2012 | 11 Comments

There are a lot of things I admire/covet about my sister: her ability to let troubles roll off her back like oil on water; her imaginative and sweet-natured son and daughter; her wide expanse of a yard including an herb garden, chickens, bees, and a swing set;  her attentive and engaged husband… the list goes on.

But above all else, I always envied her village.

When I moved back to Macon, I sort of assumed that the same people I knew before would remain close by, building their huts by mine and lending me sugar and salt and hugs as needed.  I assumed that I could slide back into the same circles, the same surroundings, with very little interference.  I assumed wrong.  People, like places, bend and shift.  People change their thoughts and ideas about who you are and what you are about even when only ten months go by… even when the only thing different is the shattering crack that runs the length of your body and announces “DIVORCED” to anyone who passes by.

So for the first year of my return, I muddled through alone. I siphoned myself away from the sympathetic looks and nods and offers of prayers or pats on the back.  I gazed out my front door and saw nothing but a long stretch of deserted, empty plots of land where I believed “my people” would set up shop.  I listened to my sister talk about her friends dropping by for evening meals, for morning runs, and for celebrations of any and every holiday and I yearned for that in my life.  I ached for women I could call, spur of the moment, who would join me in sipping glasses of wine on the patio or sampling a pot of freshly made chili.  I longed for that camaraderie, that instantaneous connection, that family beyond family.  But, like many other things in my newly single life, it remained too far from my slight reach.

As the weeks and months passed and I grew stronger, I started to spend more time wondering how to create this village of people, how to surround myself with the loving arms of friendship that I heard tale of.  And the more I thought and wondered, the more I realized that someone has to build the first house.  So I stopped yearning and started building, one nail at a time, a tender home for the first of many.  And as I built, as I stretched and reached to shingle the roof and paint the walls, I realized I had so much more than I ever believed possible.  It started small, picnics at the park and Saturday play dates.  There were  a few invites to dinner here and there until the sounds of childish laughter ricocheted off the walls of my house.  It started with just the slightest whisper and it is growing into a roar.

This is who I am.  This is my home.  And flanking me the best they can is my rag tag army, my sweet and selfless friends who respond to my call of “Chili for dinner, who is in?”  Little by little I’ve realized that it isn’t about who you think you’re supposed to know or who you thought you knew, before … it’s about the people who take the time to truly know you.  And so on Sunday night, I made vegetarian chili.  And cornbread. And vegetarian Brunswick stew. And beef barbecue. And a key lime pie.

I issued an open invitation to the people around me: “Come join my village.  Come set up shop here in this corner of the earth because you’re important to me.”   Over the past year, I’ve learned that all you can do is build your village where you stand, and those who unpack their things and prop their feet up on your furniture are the only people you really wanted there in the first place.


11 Responses to “It Takes a Village”

  1. Roxanne Piskel
    September 10th, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    I want to join your village. But I will be content with being part of your online village. I’m not ready to move to the South for you. 🙂

  2. lawmomma
    September 10th, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

    Don’t even get me started on my awesome online village! You have a virtual home right up next to mine… so close that we can yell at each other through the open windows! 😉

  3. Allysha Woods
    September 10th, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

    I may not always comment, but know I read every post. I stumbled upon your blog shortly after your divorce and you made me want to grab a blanket and stay for you. Post after post, hoping that maybe my comments (and many other peoples) would help you know that you are never alone. We are all here for you, far away we may be, we are only a blog post/comment/email away. Glad to hear you have your village to come eat chili with you, wish we could all join 🙂

  4. lawmomma
    September 10th, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

    I wish you could, too. Let’s have an online chili fest! 🙂 Bring blankets and we’ll roast marshmallows. 🙂

  5. Allysha Woods
    September 11th, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

    Now THAT sounds like a plan 🙂 xo

  6. jana
    September 10th, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

    You do have a village. Online and offline. I wish I were closer to be able to loan you a cup of sugar or come over for impromptu chili. xoxo

  7. Caitlin MidAtlantic
    September 10th, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

    You are so right. You have to make your own village. Divorced, married, working mom, stay at home mom, it doesn’t matter where we’re coming from. We have to make our own villages. But the friendships that come out of those villages mean so very much!

  8. MaconMom
    September 11th, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    You have no idea how grateful I am for the village! We need a cool name for it…and land. haha!

  9. kristinayellow
    September 11th, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    I found myself jealous of a friend at the most horrible time–foreclosure–because almost all of her neighbors came out to help her find a new place to live, pack, move, and provide food and comfort. With chronic health issues I find myself craving a village–to help me with my daughter and yes, even as much as I hate it, with me. To just have people actually offer and follow through. I hate having to always ask others because I feel like I’m imposing. Sigh. Maybe pioneer days had it right. All today’s technology and movement mean that we’ve lost our village approach–our concern for each other–our compassion. Sigh. Then again, it’s just been a crappy day so perhaps I’m just down. I’m really glad you found your village.

  10. Q's Mom
    September 13th, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    This rang a huge bell with me…in the months since my split w/Q’s dad, BOY, has it been an eye-opening experience! Friends I thought were my best friends in the world, for instance…no longer there. No get-togethers anymore, no invites. Not even a call to see how I was doing w/the various court dates, visitation situations, etc! I was so shocked. So, I’m finding I need to re-build my village, as it were, since my OTHER best friends – the ones I’ve thankfully had since I was 10! – all live in other states. It’s NOT an easy thing to do in middle age, to re-build like that – even if you’re outgoing, like I’ve always considered myself – but slowly, slowly, I’m getting there (with the help of some great ladies from a book club I’d joined a few years ago, and who’ve pulled through for me a lot more than expected). Your post on this gives me some encouragement that I’m not the only one out there going through this! 🙂

  11. betsy
    September 16th, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    This also rang so true to me. I’ve been so utterly, abjectly disappointed in so many of my so-called friends over the years of my separation and divorce.
    People that I hung out with for every weekend for years just dropped off the face of the earth. My family all but disappeared. All because I chose to end my marriage?? I made the best choice I could for myself, after years of heartbreak and soul searching. Yet, somehow it put a giant cramp in their social life, so let’s leave the single girls out to twist in the wind alone.
    I will never understand how people can be so cruel and thoughtless.
    Thank you to giving voice to this life we lead.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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