The older I get, the more I crave community—like-minded people who enjoy the same things I do, who believe in the same things I believe in, who want the same things I want. Not just in the social sense, but in all areas of my life. It’s why I joined the local chapter of Romance Writers of America when I began writing again. It’s why I belong to the Editorial Freelancers Association, why I meet up with my fellow local freelancers every so often, and why I read the blogs I read and participate with comments. It might even be why I rejoined Facebook after leaving for a while, although my motivation for signing up for Facebook and Twitter was more career-oriented than emotional, I think. But one “community” experience that came out of Facebook is the reconnection with a lot of of my old high school classmates. Our 40th (sheesh!) reunion is this month and I can’t wait to see everyone again!
It was this craving that brought me to our lake community. When we began our search, we had something definite in mind—a place to kick back and relax, where we could enjoy the water and boating, a small house that might one day become our retirement home because we truly believed that we’d be moving away from the big city once Husband retired. We’d set parameters and came armed with a list of what we wanted. We were looking for a cottage like the one he’d grown up in, like the ones we’d rented for vacations each summer when Son was a kid. At the top of the list was this, “NO MOBILE HOMES, NO MOBILE HOME PARKS.”
Last winter and spring, Husband and I spent almost six months with our realtor, looking at lake cottage after lake cottage. We toured the insides of 35 places and drove past at least 50 or 60 before we found our perfect place. And where we ended up was so far from what we’d planned, I can’t even begin to describe it. I’ve heard, “Man plans, God laughs” so many times and in the case of our lake home adventure, nothing could be truer. We bought exactly what I told the realtor I did not want when we began our journey.
We first drove through the little community that we now call home six months of the year last Memorial Day weekend, and I was impressed with how beautiful it was—big shady trees, lush grass around the homes, and a tidy dock area filled with colorful boats and other water craft. The lake sparkled in the May sunshine that day, and as it happened, it was a part of the lake that we’d visited many times in previous years of renting. We’d frequently taken our little runabout into the wide expanse of water and dreamed about one day buying a home there on that clear quiet bay.
But what sold me wasn’t the pretty little homes or the lovely location or even being on a bay we knew and already loved. As we drove around the horseshoe road that is the park’s only street, we passed a charming home with a covered front porch. The porch was filled with folks enjoying the holiday weekend together and their chatter and laughter drifted into our open car windows. When they saw us drive slowly by, they all smiled and waved and shouted, “Hi” and How are you?”
We waved back and in that moment, it hit me. I realized what I’d been looking for the past six months. It wasn’t a getaway, it wasn’t a retirement home on a lake, it wasn’t a weekend vacation spot—it was a community. I was as drawn to those folks on that pretty veranda as I’d ever been to anything anywhere…ever. I turned to Husband and said, “There! That’s what I want. Right there. I want to be on that porch with those people, drinking wine and laughing and sharing each other’s lives. We should be here.”
Two weeks later, we were moving into our mobile and now over a year later, I can’t imagine lake life any other way. It is peaceful and lovely and our little home is snug and comfortable. Our boat is fun and we love having friends and family come visit us—we are the perfect place for a weekend getaway. But the best part of life on the lake has nothing to do with our beautiful bay or boating on the big lake. Its all about our new wonderful friends—yup, the people from the porch have become good friends. They welcomed us into their little circle and every evening at 5:30, we all stop whatever we’re doing and gather together for beverages and fellowship. And no matter whether we all have “”beer-30″ on that porch or on someone else’s deck (even our own), whether we’re all floating on noodles in the lake or sitting on our golf carts around a tremendous bonfire, the warm sense of community envelopes me.
Each weekend when I sit on that porch now, sipping wine and laughing and sharing stories and news with these dear, dear folks, I know how very blessed I am to be surrounded with their love and care. All I can think is, “Thank you, God for leading us to this place, ’cause here, I’m home.”