One of the most important things to me is community – having one and being a part of one – resting in that place where you know everyone and are known yourself, strengths, flaws, and all.

In New Mexico, the years I spent in Grants and San Fidel – working at the school, as a bartender, for the newspaper – allowed me to become a firsthand witness to and member of the beautiful, humorous, and often difficult lifestyle lived by the many-cultured residents of the rural, northwestern desert at the foot of the mountain. At first as a voyeur, then as an observer – and ultimately, as a recognized voice – I was accepted as a member of the nuanced society out there, becoming a part of the tight-knit community, something I still miss every day.

“You’re right, it is a shame that so-n-so is being a pill about water rights, but what can you do?” . . . “Yes, I did see Neighbor’s new car; he’s going to need it to get up the gravel after that washout up the road” . . . “Will you be at the PSA meeting? – We’ll be planning the float for feast day!” . . . “Hey! – you haven’t been to the bar in weeks! – here’s your usual, on the house – now how was the rodeo?” . . .

. . . As I said, I miss it every day.

Community is an extended family, where your name is known by most and loved by many, where your input and existence has meaning and effect.

Huntingdon, like New Mexico, is a first-name-basis place. Life is a network of concentric rings and Venn diagrams – so full of overlap and color – that it makes an ever-spreading kaleidoscope of community that even welcomes interlopers like myself.

I live for these moments: sitting at the bar in town, brews in hand in a line down the counter, turning my head with everyone else, nodding with hullos and greetings as a newcomer arrives in from the rain; tramping about the new swamp property of a long-known presence and ever-growing friend – through the woods and over the railroad trestle; learning the roads outside of town to see the new, old sauna and creepy basement, to cook family dinner in the big yellow kitchen, then pile on the couch to scare the pug; motorcycling through the frigid cold over dirt roads to the nearest tavern, the only place where the owner of the bar in town will order wings, including her own bar . . .

As a lover of people, a needer of community, I am always grateful to feel a part of something. Leaving was hard, but the fog and sunset and the long drive helped ease the thought of waiting to find my own place in the world.

Thank you, babies. I am ever yours.

– Sarah

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