A Sense of Belonging

I was watching Invincible Friday afternoon because my mood lately has been a prime mood for what Disney Plus classifies as an inspirational sports movie. Invincible is the story of Vince Papale, a bartender from south Philly who goes to open tryouts for the Eagles and makes the team. A lot of the movie is about how much south Philly needed him and the Eagles during a time when factory workers were striking and out of a job. The depiction of south Philly and the camaraderie there reminded me of a couple of TV shows I have watched.

Back when Justified was on TV I found myself watching the scenes in eastern Kentucky with longing. The scenes that gave me the sense of longing were generally the ones of the large, extended families being together on the family land. These families were generally criminals. I assumed that the longing was more for the state of Kentucky and not a longing to be part of a criminal family.

That assumption fell apart when I watched Shameless and felt the same thing. Shameless is about a family who lives on the South Side of Chicago. They have a lot of problems and have no problem with breaking the law to get what they want. Did my sense of longing actually mean I wanted to be in a family of criminals? It did not.

What these three have in common is the portrayal of a sense of community and belonging. This sense of community and belonging survived economic turmoil and criminal enterprise. The characters lacked financial stability and, in some cases, morals, but they had a place where they belonged. They had family and friends who stood by them in the tough times. They had a circle of support. They had community.

My longing didn’t come from a desire to be a criminal, it came from a desire for community. The suburban sprawl where I live can make community hard, especially when you are not a people person. I wrote recently about how I had a yearning for home. I have no family here besides my wife and kids. I can be out and about in my area and never see one person I know. I don’t really know my neighbors. I spend the majority of my time at home with whoever is living in the house at the time. I want the sense of community you can find in some small towns and neighborhoods. It is harder to find here.

I know there are things I could do to change this. I had a sense of community for a while at my old church. I worked with the youth group and felt a connection to them, their families and the other youth workers. Things changed and I changed churches and have not made the effort to really feel like I belong there. I could change that. I felt a sense of community during some youth sports and dance. Those are gone now that the kids are adults.

I am impressed with the fact that these shows did such a good job with a sense of place and belonging that it made me want to live there.

A Yearning For Home

I’ve lived in Maryland since the mid-90s. I’ve raised my kids in Maryland. I’ve lived in Maryland about the same amount of time I lived in Kentucky. I still consider Kentucky home. A part of me has always wanted to go back home.

The past few months has really increased my yearning for home. Take a pandemic and being forced to stay at home. Mix in being profoundly unhappy at work. Add in a little eventually both of your kids will live away from home. It’s a recipe for needing a serious change in your life. For me, part of that is a strong desire to be back home.

There a several reasons for that.

A small town seems a better place to be during a pandemic that thrives in crowded locations.

I miss being close enough to see my siblings on a regular basis.

I fit in more in small town Kentucky than I do in suburbia.

I’m always happier when I am in Kentucky.

I could buy a house much cheaper than my house in Maryland.

This would probably mean I could retire early and just relax and enjoy life.

There are two big reasons I ignore all of the good reasons to make the move:

My wife will never leave Maryland.

My kids are pretty much settled here and for them this is home.

So, I will ignore my yearnings for home. I will figure out how to be happier where I am. I will keep trying to convince my wife that I should “retire” now. I will go home as much as I can whenever it is safe to do so. This would be aided by convincing my wife that I should quit my job.

Maryland is where my family is and regardless of my yearnings, that means that this is home.

Hermit Weekend

Leaving the house is overrated. Usually. There are times I wish we went out more and did more interesting things. There are times, though, when never leaving the house is the best thing for me. This was one of those weekends. From looking at my memories on Facebook, this time frame seems to be a time that I do go in to hermit mode. I don’t know what has caused it in the past, but this year I know it is the combination of work stress and the stress of my last kid moving away to college. I needed a weekend to reboot and reset. Here is my hermit weekend so far(hermit being used loosely. My family was around):

Saturday: Leave the house to go to the library to get my holds and for my daughter(home for the weekend because her dorm has no AC) to get a couple of books for the weekend. Use the self check app so you don’t have to talk to the library staff. Eat all meals at home. Play Life with family when both kids are at home. Take the dog for a walk.

Sunday:  Leave the house once to go to church. Never go outside again. Spend the day reading on the couch reading a book while my daughter watches House Hunters. All meals at home. Too hot to walk the dog.

Today: So far, I have not gone outside. I have no plans to leave the house unless we drive my daughter back to school today. If she goes back tomorrow morning instead, I may not go outside at all again today. Write a dumb blog post about doing nothing. Watch the Braves game at 1(pending family TV negotiation). Maybe read the one of the two books I have at home but can’t decide if I really want to read.

Tomorrow I will be forced to go back to the real world. The real world is overrated.


Destruction Day

It is my morning off and I am surrounded by noise. It is destruction day, the beginning of the remodel of our master bathroom. The old is coming out to make room for the new. We’ve already discovered that we were lucky with out timing. We apparently had a leak behind our shower that could have turned in to a major issue had we not been tearing it down today. I could go deep and use the rest of the post about the metaphors of the morning. Getting rid of the old, damaged self to make room for the new. How the walls you put up hide the damage inside and repair can only come once you break down the walls. I could do that, but I won’t.

I will talk instead about the destruction and rebuild meaning we will be a one bathroom family for a couple of weeks. There are only three of us living here, so it shouldn’t be a problem, but I will have to think about the timing of getting ready for work, especially next week when I will have odd hours. My daughter gave us a list of rules we have to follow if we are going to share her bathroom.  I hope she realizes I won’t necessarily follow those rules. I did think it was funny, though. The big issue with her will be that she will have to try to not be as messy as she normally is. That will be a challenge. It might be a long two weeks.

I will also talk about my weird, annoying dog. She knows the people working on the bathroom. She knows they are in the house. As long as they are working upstairs she is fine and sits on the couch with me. The minute they open the front door she freaks out and starts barking at them like they are intruders. You would think she would figure out the pattern and stop barking when they come back in the house. She;s barking as I type this, so it appears that this won’t happen.

It will all be worth the above when the bathroom is finished. The over 20-year-old bathroom will be replaced with a nice, shiny new one. I can deal with some noise and sharing a bathroom for that.