Since starting to go to Valley + Mountain, I’ve tried to become a part of the community. I’ve introduced myself, not sat only in the back (a big step for me!), hung around after to chat, participated in a potluck party, gone to a clothing swap, and started running the newsletter for the Collaboratory, the community center where Valley and Mountain is held.
Now that I write that list out, I feel a lot better about myself. At V+ M, it seems like everyone is always cooking food or cleaning up or setting up for something, and I’m just standing around chatting. (I hate cleaning up! I know that is no excuse.)
Getting involved feels good. I’ve made friends and had people to talk to when I was happy and unhappy. It’s a really nice feeling. Church as community–a diverse, inter-generational, friendly and welcoming community–is often overlooked. But I think it’s reason enough to join a church.
Why? BECAUSE COMMUNITY IS GREAT. Being part of something that’s bigger and more diverse than your friend group is amazing. The other week, I got to hold a baby while talking to someone about his experience doing the Freedom Rides in the 60s. I get to talk to old adults, young adults, kids, three-year-olds, babies, and because this is Seattle, a dog named Lola. I get to hear what they care about as parents, children, students, and toddlers. (The toddler I talked to the other week was very interested in Elmo and going bye-bye, and in many other things but I’m not sure what they are.)
My friends are amazing–I am so lucky to live around friends out here–but we are all pretty similar in outlook and age and status in life. That’s why we’re friends! Of course we have different viewpoints and ideas, but we are all concerned with the same set of things that are tied to our age and station: advancing our careers, having/not having kids, finding a place to live/buying a house, living far away from our parents, and where to go on Friday night. It’s great to have a group of people who will always be up for talking about these things, but it’s amazing to have a group of people who have either 1. Already done all of these things or 2. Never thought about doing any of these things. It helps me to realize that I will not always be twenty-something and thinking about how to balance writing and working. IT IS SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE.
And that there are other, more important things than my little career.
Valley and Mountain meets in a diverse neighborhood, Hillman City. There is a cool map here of diversity in Seattle here. The Rainier Valley is full of diverse neighborhoods, and diverse is not code for “not white.” The map shows how likely you are to be a different race from someone else, and the higher the number, the more diverse the neighborhood is. Diversity was one of the reasons Andrew and I moved to Seattle (from distinctly not-diverse New Hampshire), and I’m very happy that we ended up living where we do and that I go to church where I do. Our future kids will get to meet people outside of our friend group, people who are older, younger, richer, poorer, and just different from the people I usually hang out with. People who teach yoga, people who write plays, people who make their living getting phones to homeless people, people who are mothers and activists and loners and, overwhelmingly, very nice.
All the love is starting to make me wonder if I’m losing credibility here. Some day, I’m sure I will write about the difficulties of being in a community like this one–maybe when they make me start cleaning up?–but I’m happy to enjoy it here and now. This has been a difficult fall, with lots of rain and sadness, and it feels good to know that I am part of something bigger, happier, and good.