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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Ann Masur

Why You Might Have More of a Community Than You Think




If you’ve moved somewhere new, you could feel, for a time, like you’re living on a bizarre island of isolation, even after a year or more. You’re busy, but mostly alone. Now, you might have some friends, but it’s slow going. People wave, you try your best at meaningful small talk, but mostly feel like an outsider, especially if you know you’re eventually leaving.

However, isn’t it fun life can surprise us? Isn’t it refreshing to know our perceptions, while important, are limited? Last week when Eric and I returned from our anniversary trip to Florence, I learned sometimes you have more community than you think. Sometimes people who seem to dwell on the periphery of your life have a vested interest in the wellbeing of you and your family.

While we were away, my parents cared for our children, taking them to school and then to the village for time at the café and river. Mom told me that on the school grounds and down in the village, people kept approaching her and Dad, and asking who they were. (Everyone walks up to the school for pickup around here.) She said at first it was just a bit annoying, but then she realized it was a good thing. One of the instances was when one of the children was having a hard time emotionally after school.These people were checking in; they were making sure our children were okay.

Because, I have community.


It makes me well up to type that line. I’ve longed for investment in place and people, an attainable Stars Hollow, Walnut Grove, small town idea, interacting and working alongside one another as a natural part of our daily lives. But the skeptic in me knows that life, especially modern life, is complicated and hectic. I shouldn’t expect too much. Things can get weird when everyone’s involved in your business anyway, right? And yet, there is this desire to belong to a place and its people, to land and legacy--to care for them and, in turn, be cared for as well. A ‘membership,’ as Wendell Berry calls it.

Writing about the beauty of where I live, I often share tips on social media, for if you would decide to come this way. People often note how privileged I am for the experience of living here, and I agree. However, when we moved over in COVID times of 2020, unable to meet many people, our autistic child yet undiagnosed and struggling, I would have traded the picturesque setting for vinyl siding houses in suburbia if it meant being back with people who knew and cared for us.


My mental health has taken a toll the last couple of years, and I’m proud (and thankful) to say I’ve invested in therapy, rest, and putting myself out there again and again. My reels on Instagram show historic homes and notable places to visit, but normal life involves school runs, grocery errands, ballet lessons, church, doctor appointments—everyday comings and goings, albeit via an aesthetically pleasing drive.

Building community can be like growing a garden in a foreign climate. You don’t know the best way to cultivate, because you’re unfamiliar with the surroundings and how the flourishing process happens. You can, however, do some research and just keep trying, resting when you get worn out from it all. It's real work laced with serendipity. You can’t control everything, but you might be surprised with what’s been growing all along.


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ABOUT

I’m Audrey Ann—a writer who treasures the gift of travel, and I’m a mama who endeavors to love where I live one playdate, grocery trip, and sunset at a time. An island girl with heartland roots, I currently live in the Cotswolds of the United Kingdom. 

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WORDS FOR THE TRANSIENT SOUL

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