This week, my mind is full of thoughts and feelings about community and living local.
It was exciting to participate in a writers’ group at the library this week. I was intimidated by the talent of others, but also inspired to see that there are people out there wanting to write and writing and trying to write better.
I really hope that this group becomes a regular part of my routine. It’s partly about writing, but it’s also about feeling connected to my community. One aspect of country living that I am struggling with is how freaking LONG it takes to get everywhere. It feels extra long now that I have a toddler; I am often frantically trying to keep him awake in the backseat so that he won’t have a fifteen-minute car nap that interferes with a luxurious two-hour nap in his crib at home later in the day.
These “please please please don’t nap” car battles usually happen on my drives into the city. I love living not-too-far from Baltimore, but most of our favorite places are a 30- or 40-minute drive away, and that’s not awesome for me or for Teddy.
So I’ve been enjoying finding little outings and activities that are in OUR neighborhood recently – simple things, like joining the local YMCA that’s only eight minutes from our house. Tee and I have been taking Teddy there – I take Teddy swimming while she works out, and then she plays in the pool with him while I swim laps.
Our local library is only 16 minutes away. My writing group was on Thursday evening, and then on Friday morning Teddy and I attended a baby story time there that was really sweet. (Also, a bunch of grown-ups singing songs and doing matching hand movements is always hysterical to me.) Before story time, Teddy and I stopped in at Dough Run, a little bakery/cafe in Monkton, for coffee and a maple muffin. There was a train table in the cafe, so Teddy and I were both living our bliss.
One of my 2018 intentions is, ironically, to be intentional. I want to do everything I do with more mindfulness and purpose. The things I buy, the ways I spend my time, the books I read, the things I eat – everything. When I was in my early twenties, I boycotted Starbucks in favor of the local coffee shop. Lately, I buy and eat and do whatever is convenient; my sister made a comment to me about “shopping local” for Christmas presents, and I realized that every single one of my presents was purchased on Amazon. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Now, I don’t have a problem with Amazon; I love it. But if I pause, and think about how I want to spend my money – what businesses I want to support – I realize that I really value supporting local businesses. If my local used bookstore, Ukazoo, went out of business, I’d be incredibly sad. And there’s a funky gift shop in Hampden called Trohv that I adore; I would be bummed if it closed, and yet I did not support it at all during the holiday season, the time of year when I do most of my gift shopping.
When I reflect on the last decade of my life, one thing I have been constantly wanting but never quite getting is a tight community of friends. I have a lot of good friends – some old, some more recent, a lot of them living hours away – but I’m always envious of people who have a tight-knit group of friends, an urban tribe. It’s embarrassing to write this – it sounds very middle school “I don’t have any frieeeeeends” to me – but it’s true.
That wish for a tight-knit group of friends might be part of my desire to live local. I crave community – for me, for Tee, and especially for Teddy and any future kids. And it’s been really fun to realize how much there is for us to do and see and explore that is NOT forty minutes away.