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 I 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 :)