Where did I discover community in 2010 and where do I hope to find it in 2011? It’d be all to easy to tell you about the friendships I forged in Minot and the tight sense of community that has enveloped me as a military wife here in Germany. We spent a whole month here carless and had a huge variety of people step in to help us. From the Colonel who gave us a ride home and offered his number to the Seargeant who gave us tips on what electrical equipment to buy, the overseas military community is a tightknit group. Once you are in you are family. Everyone takes care of everyone. That’s just how it works. An ever growing, ever moving community.
It would be almost as easy to tell you about the community that I lost in 2010. The people who disapproved of my decisions and cut me from their lives. The friendships that subcumbed to the difficulties of long distance relationships. The girl’s nights groups that I can no longer meet with due to not living near them. I’ve lost as many communities as I have gained this year.
Communities pop up all over the world – internet and real life – for a multitude of reasons. Religion, race, history, television shows, movies, video games, causes, diseases, hobbies, sports, all these and more bring us together. The internet allows us to connect in ways that we never thought possible. You love this random movie that no one in your circle of friends has seen much less liked? Congratulations, there are hundreds of webpages for said movie. Connection over anything in an instant.
Sometimes though that leaves me even lonelier than before. Now, instead of telling myself that my friend has written and her letter is in the mail, I’m faced with the empty email inbox day after day as proof that she just hasn’t the time for me anymore. Or I see the blog stats on my other blog (about my life in Germany written specifically to keep family in touch) and know that people are reading and yet they never comment.
But what does that say about community? Is it an artifice created by us in a desperate attempt for connection? Or is it a meaningful connection forged through like interests or similar backgrounds?
I believe that community is what we make of it. It has the weight and import that we give it.
For me, it is important to have friends that will listen to what I am going through. Friends that I feel I can support. If I’ve met them online or known them my whole life, what’s the difference? I’ve had more support since moving from online friends than from real life friends. Online friends aren’t put off by the distance as they’ve never been physically close to me anyway.
In 2011, I want to keep building friendships and forging a community with people who are like minded. I want to have a haven that will shelter me when I am broken and lost. I want to build a safe place for others who are looking for comfort. The community I am most likely to join in 2011 is that belonging to the spouses of the deployed. And I will need every friendship I have ever forged to walk down that path.
I want to find a safe place that will not endemnify nor condemn, but that will accept any and all they have to share. Because for me, that is community.