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when tod and i moved here we came fresh from a secluded life in vermont.  i had lived there with him for 6 years.  i'd never been anywhere such as the likes of vermont.  we were in a cocoon there (except for the hired help at the house we caretook for...that never gave us any peace but thats another story)  i think i made 2 friends all told and rarely heard or saw from them due to their schedules and mine but also i think due to how spread out and isolated everyone seemed to be.

i think when we came here to huntsville we both thought everything would change in a big way.  true this was still a small city (i think the pop including prisoners and students is 70k but honestly it feels like a town of 20k) but we were in the middle of the deserted downtown and had instant contacts thanks to dan phillips of the phoenix commotion.

well....not a lot changed and that was our fault.  we hunkered down in our loft and stayed glued together most of the time.  we were in culture shock.  big time.  the language, the food, the way of life pretty much put us in a frozen coma.  after realizing we both weren't into working for the phoenix commotion, after realizing i had pipe vases and flowers to make and a year later...after tod realized he didnt want to keep living here and was ready to find his own way in life realized i better get to know people and stop being a damn hermit.

this year has been a year of shedding and growth on a very personal level.  i can honestly say i've never had the sorts of relationships that i am having here.  and i finally get it...and i finally like it.  people here are busy just as they are everywhere else but people here somehow manage to make time for others. truthfully, i didnt think i would make it here.  i didnt think anyone would accept me and obviously i wasnt doing a good job of accepting them.  a miracle has happened in the last few months, i feel like i belong here.  i can walk outside and go somewhere and people talk to me and recognize me and sometimes even pop by for a chat!  it's okay that i dress like shit and have my head poking into dumpsters.  it's okay that i am usually home all the time alone working on art 7 days a week, that i dont have money to go out for food or drinks.  i'm invited more and more to things and that i dont go doesnt seem to bother them. i'm asked. thats the important thing.  some invisible barrier feels like it's lifting, i dont feel so alone or angry.

i've gotten to know a young couple that live in the same building as i do. this last weekend me and amanda threw them a wedding reception as they got married via justice of the peace (if you knew me you'd know how out of character that is for me...see i'm changing!!!!)  they are expecting a baby in a few weeks and it's probably the first time in my life i've been excited to see a new human that wants to be in this world. i like knowing they are there, i like knowing there is someone to loan the proverbial cup of sugar to :)  i've gotten to know M and D a few blocks away who will, at the drop of a hat, if they are home, pick me up in their truck and help me grab some long pieces of rebar that they or i have spotted in some abandoned area.  and thru them i've gotten to know others who keep their eyes peeled for boxes and other scraps.  it IS a small town feel here. everyone seems to know everyone and word travels fast.  good deeds are done and i find myself doing more good deeds as well as being the recipient of them.

case in point:  i finally have a covering for my porch area!  its so dang hot and sunny until about 2pm that i can never really work much unless i just want to grin and bear it.  now i have this wonderful umbrella to cover me thanks to my neighbors.

and yesterday to my COMPLETE AMAZEMENT, i received a new twin mattress!!!!!  i couldnt take my air mattress anymore, after 2 years of sleeping on it my body was in revolt.  most of my nights i spent jumping from it to the couch (also given to us when someone was moving) and waking up feeling like a 90 year old.  air mattresses are fine for a few nights but over time they are nasty and uncomfortable.  so i decided to email the handful of contacts here in town and asked if anyone had a mattress they didnt need.  i had a $100 budget for it and instead received from 'an anonymous person' a new one delivered to me a day later.  no off-gassing.  no nasty germs/mites or bedbugs.  i dont think i have ever HAD a new mattress in my life!!!!  so i am humbled.  and i consider it my duty to keep doing and giving to others here because for now this IS my home and i'm beginning to love it.  yes i want a trader joes or a few good organic grocery stores close by.  yes i want mountains to climb without having to drive a day to get there... and it would be nice to live where it wasnt 105 degrees with 80% humidity...but ya know what?  i've lived in illinois/arizona/on the road/minnesota/vermont and now here and i gotta say, this quirky little city has wedged one of its 5 star points into my heart.

i remember when i first moved here and i met cynthia.  she was from upstate new york.  i met her about a week after moving here and i couldnt believe she lived in texas.  she doesnt live in town anymore but has a booth at the antique shop.  anyhow, i asked her how could she stand it here and her answer was ' the people'.  it was an answer i've heard many times when i've asked that question.  and now, if you were to ask ME that...i would say the same thing. 

its the day to day interactions.  i can be outside working on something and now people walk by and smile, chat....ask what i'm working on.  i no longer feel like the freak.  hell even the college guys next door remember my name and ask me how i'm doing!  compared to last year when the last batch of guys looked at me with annoyance, i'd say things are looking up.

i may not be able to sell art in this town (thank god for the internet!!!!) but i no longer feel completely alone and alienated.  people have no idea how important the little things are....a smile, a little pat on the arm or a hug.  being interested and asking/sharing.  these things are the ingredients that make a healthy community.  i think i'm finally learning how to be a human being :)


cobaltika said…
this is so great to read! yes, the people are everything. even though i lived in a nice town in Kansas, i felt so alienated (mostly my own doing) and as soon as i get settled *somewhere* here in Texas, the first thing i want to do is start creating some kind of community for myself. not just online, but in real life. having a little community is SO important, no matter what size town you live in. good for you!!!!!!!! and i'm so glad you have a real bed now! sweet!
Lisa D. said…
Wonderful post...thank you, Paula
paula said…
yep...i agree. its been my fault too that i've felt alienated. i kept wanting to leave and now i'm thinking there are so many lessons i'm learning here that it just isnt my time yet. lots of judgements and anger are dying here and i'm excited to see who i become.

thanks lisa :)
wow. what a complete shift in attitude and energy. leaps and bounds and so very thrilled to be a witness to it ( even though via the internet! ) Big hugs to you Paula!!
collage whirl said…
What a wonderful shift for you Paula! As long as you don't sing Kumbaya in your next post... lol

I love your parasol :-)
sarala said…
I guess we can find like minded people anywhere. I'm so happy for you. I am so lucky to have a few good friends locally and it was hard work coming by them. Even so, I barely have a nodding acquaintance with most of my neighbors. Good luck with all the hot weather!
Tod said…
A RAINBOW 'brella!! AAAAAA! Great post P. That photo tells quite the story too. Love that there is a yellow Hummer parked in the background.
Martha Marshall said…
I am so happy for you, Paula. This is big. We all need each other. It's a scary world without caring connections.
paula said…
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya

thanks for being happy you guys, god knows you put up with a lot of my complaining on facebook huh.... thought i was due to share good :)
Kim Hambric said…
Paula, this is fantastic! I'm weepy on this end -- happy tears for you. Hoping Hoping Hoping that this keeps up for you. As long as you are a willing participant, I sure your circle will continue to grow and support you.
paula said…
thank you kim. i actually think about you a lot and hope you can find a few people in your weird college town too, it makes a huge difference and i have to believe anything is possible now :)
i know i have lots more to go in life, but at least some energy is shifting!!!
This is the best post to read! Bigs hugs to you from across the pond!

Angela Recada said…
This is such a wonderful post Paula! I am so happy for you, that you feel like you are at HOME somewhere. That is so huge! :0)

Yes, people can make or break a place, and like Kim, I haven't found the right ones here where I live yet. It's been 22 years and I keep trying though! I may never succeed in that here, but your story gives me hope.

Funny, after my post of yesterday, a woman I know here locally unfriended me on facebook and unliked my fan page! At first I thought "jeez, it's like high school." But then I felt even more free, because she was the main reason I was still a member of a local art organization that is not just right for me. Very cliquish and conservative. Not ME at all, so I'm finally moving on and not looking back!

I like your happy umbrella. :0)
Sweet dreams on your brand new mattress, my friend.
Viktoria said…
Hi Paula,
Happy with you!
Loved to read this optimistic and uplifting post!
The "little things" between people are important!
paula said…
angela, i often dont FB friend people i know in real life for that reason :) and as you guys know it aint easy here but it does help tremendously to have these little encounters. there is always room for growth and improvement and i have to believe that if we dont give up and we hang in there and keep knocking on the doors someone will answer eventually. i feel like i still have a long ways to go as a human, at least i'm encouraged lately :) certainly you will be attracting new encounters as well as you have changed substantially inside in just a few months!
Cynthia said…
I can't remember when I've been so glad to read something!!! Keep your heart open...XXX love you
Colleen Kole said…
This post made my day! Optimism, growing , friends, community, a new bed and reaching out. :):):) This is very huge, my friend-hugs from afar.
paula said…
yeah..its good stuff. looking forward to much much more!!!
ArtPropelled said…
This is so great to hear Paula! You needed time to adjust before you could open your heart. You are human after all! We all take time to feel comfortable with new situations.
Kisha said…
sending out tentacles into your new community, and making friends will be great for you!
Elena said…
What an awesome post! Haven't been by in a while and was thrilled to see that you are letting people 'in' who can see how truly great you are. How awesome on the mattress and umbrella! Gives me hope in humanity.
Carla Trujillo said…
Glad to hear that life is feeling good once again! When one door shuts, another opens.
Growth can be a hardship, but it does open your eyes.


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