In A Neighborhood I Loved; Thoughts On Tribes

For eight years I lived in a neighborhood I loved. 

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I learned and grew on that street by a pond. I experienced the kind of magic you find in a tight-knit community that truly embraces what it means to take care of each other. 

Granted, it wasn't perfect. There was the neighbor whose "lady friend" once got drunk and passed out by the community dumpster in her underwear. There was the insanely hairy and yeti-like dude who liked to walk around shoeless AND shirtless. There was the neighbor who had a house party until the wee hours of the morning, who was later put in his place by a raging mama bear (me), tired from nursing sick kids that night. And then there was the neighbor who hid inside his sofa (huh?) when the SWAT team raided his house and hauled him to jail! (You guys, I can't make this stuff up.) 

But so much love and laughter happened on our street, too. Neighborhood barbecues, birthday parties, impromptu gatherings in front yards, Chick-Fil-A runs, meals and treats for when babies were lost or born. It was lovely.  

When I think of that neighborhood I loved, I'm reminded of a scene in While You Were Sleeping. Lucy, the main character, is talking about a situation-turned-debacle  with her boss. As I'm sure many of you remember, she saved a man, Peter, from certain death when he was pushed on the elevated-train tracks. He was taken to the hospital in a comatose state, where he remains, unconscious, for the larger portion of the movie. Hilarity ensues as Lucy is mistakenly perceived to be Peter's fiancé. She is whole-heartedly accepted and embraced by Peter's family as one of their own. 

At one point during the conversation between Lucy and her boss, her boss exasperatedly exclaims, "Lucy! You are BORN into a family. You DO NOT JOIN THEM like the Marines!"

I actually disagree with the Boss Man! 

Like a marine, I joined several families in that neighborhood I loved. I cultivated friendships with women I came to love like sisters. When life got rough with Camren and parenting and my anxiety, I cried to a friend who became like another mother to me. I experienced loyalty and compassion  and laughter and fun. I came to better understand what it truly means to support another. I was nurtured, I was blessed, I was happy. I felt I had found my tribe. 

And then, I moved. 

It was hard and I cried a lot. I missed my old neighborhood. I ached for the familiar. I put on a brave face for the benefit of my children by day; at night my tears would wet my pillowcase. For many, many months it was painful. And then--after eating an abundance of cookies, saying lots of prayers, and watching several new neighbors and their moving trucks roll into the neighborhood--it wasn't as painful anymore. I fostered friendships, made connections that were meant to be. 

Author Sebastian Junger wrote, "Above all, people need to feel connected with others." We are inherently tribal. A long, long time ago, those who came before us lived in cultures where women cooked together, raised their babies together, did laundry together, and helped one another through the many painful challenges of life.  A tribe.

As I have gotten older I have come to more fully understand the value of having a tribe--women and friends to share this remarkable life journey with me. So much of my survival (and sanity)--and dare I say, yours too--is dependent upon finding, having, embracing, and being a part of a tribe.

My tribe was in that neighborhood I loved. Much of my tribe is still there.

But you know what? I'm slowly and surely finding my tribe here, too. Because tribes don't necessarily change with geography or circumstance. (If they do, dare I say they weren't your true tribe to begin with?) No, tribes don't change in the way that people leave them. Tribes grow. They grow fuller, deeper, richer, and more meaningful in their numbers, their sincerity, and their support. And with the increase in numbers you find an increase in love. 

I'm so very grateful for that.  



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