The power of place
One thing that’s new about where we live now is that we seem to have a lot of impromptu gatherings with people. They don’t happen every day. But enough for me to notice.
Our friend who lives across the street, the family with two small kids who live a few miles away, our friends who live in the next town over, our new next-door neighbor, my in-laws, etc. - we hardly ever plan anything much in advance, but we tend to see each other quite a bit.
I don’t know if it’s just because we live out in the country now, but this never really happened when we lived in the city where we had to plan playdates for our daughter and hangouts with family/friends weeks in advance. Everyone was so busy. Everything was more structured.
Of course, this is not to dunk on cities. We were just as much a part of the overly scheduled city life as anyone else was. There was so much to do. So many options. Which was nice, for a season. But out here, people are far less... booked up... There’s not as much going on.
I think that our environment shapes us more than we might think. When you live in a city, you are immersed in a way of life that’s been in place for a long time. Same thing in the country. Our place becomes a part of us and we become a part of it.
On the other hand, there’s the old saying that says that we take ourselves wherever we go. Yes, if I’m an asshat in Chicago, I’ll still likely be one in Loyalton. I can’t move away from myself. But I’m starting to see that PLACE plays a bigger role in life than I once realized. There are certain places that seem to disproportionately sink people’s lives like icebergs just waiting for ships to come to port. And there are other places where people’s lives are shaped towards the better... just by being there.
Now, this is totally subjective. You might move to my town and turn into a rotted shell of yourself. But I love how this place seems to shape people. The intimacy of unscheduled, casual drop-ins from friends and neighbors has been a delight. More serendipity and less planning is a dynamic of this place that I welcome these days.