today, dave and I went to the school for layla’s parent-teacher conference. it went well. layla is doing well, her teacher likes having her, all that good stuff.
but, aside from layla doing well in school, having lots of friends, having a teacher who appreciates her creativity and quirkiness, and the secretaries in the front office who, not only knew who my kid was without me telling them, but proceeded to tell me how much they like her and how cute her new haircut is, I was reminded of something really great today. it doesn’t really specifically have anything to do with the school so much, but it’s just another part of what ties it all together.
living here, in our little section of a big little town on the outskirts of the seattle suburbs, I feel community for the first time in my life. I realize that probably sounds kind of strange, at this point in my life. it’s not like I’ve lived, up until now, in the middle of nowhere, or even in some huge, anonymous, bustling metropolis.
I grew up in kirkland. I never moved until I went to college. 18 straight years in one place. part of it might have been that I was a kid and didn’t really care about much beyond the 3 or 4 neighborhood kids that I played with regularly, but although we lived there, I don’t really think my family built any network of friends or acquaintances there. I didn’t go to my neighborhood elementary school until 6th grade. I went to school in bellevue, where we also went to church. by the time I started at that school, I was already deeply involved in skating and ballet, and spent every day travelling back and forth to lynnwood and/or bellevue. I knew a few of the people on my street and that’s about it. anyway, kirkland is a pretty big town.
you would also maybe think that our two years in napoleon might have provided a good sense of community. perhaps, had we stayed longer, I would have been able to embrace it. then, not so much. I was completely weirded out most of the time we were there. this is not to say I didn’t like it. I did. but the fact that people all knew each other or were related to each other (or probably both) for generations upon generations really kinda freaked me out. I didn’t know how to connect when everyone already seemed connected. I knew people from church, and a couple people from shane’s school, but I didn’t go out of my way to become friends with them. in retrospect, I probably wasn’t very friendly.
at any rate, we moved here 3 and a half years ago. one of the first things I did was join the newly formed, local MOMS club. this has proven to be a huge connecting thing for me, and not just because of playgroups and events. I see these people elsewhere as well. I find out that I know people that they know. right after that, we signed shane up for soccer. this is his 4th year on the team and it’s grown to 17 members. this year, layla started playing soccer, AND she started kindergarten at our neighborhood school. all 6 girls on her team go to her school. 5 of them are in the same class.
but it goes beyond that. this community of seemingly unrelated connections has been surprising me for awhile. I found it weird that I couldn’t go to safeway without bumping into at least one person I knew. I can’t drive down the road without passing a car I recognize. people I’m facebook friends with are friends with each other, even though I know them from completely different venues, and people I know know other people I know… I’m starting to realize that I actually know a lot of people, and I know them from MORE THAN ONE THING, and that is the thing that has startled me. I’m actually part of a community.
I really realized it today when I was at the school, signing in at the office for our conference. there was another lady in the office at the same time, that I knew from layla’s soccer team. she was telling the secretary to call a certain lady (who I knew because she used to be a member of the MOMS club) because her son (who I knew) had left his lunch in her car. and then we went to layla’s classroom, and on the way, we saw siblings of kids who we knew from soccer in their classrooms…
I realize most people probably understand that this is just a normal part of life… of living in one place for awhile. but it’s new for me. and weird. nice. but still weird.
at any rate, I like it. it’s a phenomenon that I kind of have always known existed for other people, but had never experienced personally. but now that I know that it’s real, maybe at some point it can quit surprising me!