Do you ever feel like you don't quite belong? Like you can't just be who you really are with people? Like people aren't showing their true selves to you either? Like life is just a big show you put on for the people around you?
Sometimes that is how I felt in my previous neighborhood. Like I couldn't go out in my yard without doing my hair or wearing matching clothes because the neighbors would see me. Like I had to dress and act a certain way to fit in. Maybe it was just my not quite upper-middle class neighborhood with jewelry parties and fake designer purses, perfect lawns and perfect families. Even though I looked the part (except for the fake designer purses), I always felt uncomfortable. We were friendly with the neighbors and were invited to the parties, but our family chooses not to drink alcohol and sometimes that made us feel awkward when everyone else was drinking. (I know, who needs peer pressure in their thirties?)
Moving to the country has changed some of that. First of all, there is only one house we can see from our yard and it is distant enough that we certainly cannot tell what the neighbor is wearing if we see them. So this means I do go out in the yard in my pajamas. Whenever I want. Without combing my hair sometimes. And I do not have to worry about what anyone else thinks about it. Second, the people in the country are different from the people in the almost-upper middle class neighborhoods. They aren't living their lives to meet someone else's standards. They are just living their lives. There are no jewelry parties, purse parties, or over-priced kitchen tool parties for me to spend money on things I don't really want because that is what good neighbors do. In fact, other than a graduation party for the boy "next door," there have been no parties at all except the ones hosted by my teenagers in the backyard for their friends.
No neighbors to impress also means just that. There are no neighbors. When I am bored or lonely, I can't just go outside and talk to the mom next door watching her kids play. I can talk to the chickens, but that is about it. It can get kind of lonely. I do have a job. In town. With people. So that is good, but after five years, I am missing the parties and the casual friendships that develop between neighbors. Am I comfortable in my home and yard? Yes. However, I want something more. I want to belong somewhere. I want people to be a part of my life and to be a part of their lives. More than just the people at work. I want to belong to my community. Now, I just have to figure out what that community is . .