"Get back. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged! Get back home..." These lyrics blared from my stereo the other day as I busily cleaned my kitchen. As I caught myself singing along, my thoughts began to wander internally… the song mentions two characters that have left home for different reasons, and have found that sometimes the world tempts us to leave a place of security with promise of great things, but doesn't always deliver! Immediately my thoughts turned to my sixth graders at school and I began to think about their plights to fit in with friends, or find someone to listen to them, find a place to belong. Social circles are an interesting breed, and you can't force true friendship or belonging, but one thing I have seen is that if someone is looking, there are friends out there that can make you feel like you belong. I witness everyday and am a true believer that all anyone in this life really needs is to belong! We all have an inherent need to love and be loved by someone. So it becomes ever important that we open our hearts to find, or be those that make us feel at home. This of course led me to think about the circles to which I have "belonged" over the years.
One such circle would be my family. I was so lucky to grow up her in St. Johns. I grew up with 4 brothers and a sister. I am grateful for the best friends I found in the early years of my life. We lived in a modest home that didn't always give each of us the room we thought we needed, but I wouldn't trade the memories for anything. Yes we fought and teased, but I always knew I had a place at home. My mom had created in our family room, a book cupboard. It was filled with so many cool titles. I can remember pulling out a stack of books that I planned to read during my mom's instituted "quiet time". I remember how calm and settled I always felt in that room as I laid on my belly by the big window and read and read away many Sunday afternoons. That was another "sense of belonging" I recall. These friends in the cupboards could cheer me up any day. I still feel a warmth come over me and can picture vividly several of my favorite books.
Another place felt I belonged was my neighborhood. Such awesome neighbors I had. Ken Raban lived straight across the street from me. Often he would beckon my sister and I over to his door and offer us a choice of treat from his BRACHS candy bag. He would tell us stories and jokes and always let us walk up and down his cool fence(every now and again I have the urge to stop there and see if I can still make it up and down it!) Mrs. Anna Herring, another dear neighbor, would spend spring and summers working in her flowers and would always stop her work to visit with me whenever I ventured across the street to her house. She had been my kindergarten teacher and I loved her with all my heart because she had always shown me kindness and took time to listen to a small girl. Murray Patterson lived across from our house as well for several years. We would go over and play with his son. He had a cool swing in his back yard and would push any of us neighbor kids in it. We would squeal with delight as he pushed us so high(He lives in a different house today, but still has a cool swing that I see many kids have access to). Another neighbor was Marja Hansen, who was my music teacher in school. She has one of the loudest voices I have ever heard, both singing and yelling. Her daughter Phyllis would play with us in the neighborhood and always bring us cookies that her mom had baked. We would play in their yard, sometimes for hours. Tag, or a game we called "Statues" and hide-n-seek were some of our favorites. The kids in our neighborhood would often play in our field out back, with all my dad's cool tools (I'm sure he loved that!) or in our tree house-correction- two story tree house in our back yard! It was awesome! Many times we'd play in our sand box, or even in the street and ride our bikes around the block. Fun times! BUT...At dusk, no matter where we were in the neighborhood, we'd know it was time to go home when we heard Mrs. Hansen's voice bellow through the street, "Phyllis, come home!" It was sort of like our neighborhood signal, like the "Batman signal" but in voice, alerting us that we needed to get back home before dark. I felt so safe in that little neighborhood.
Such great memories I have of places I once "belonged". Some people say you can never go back and maybe its true. But I believe you can show honor to those people, places and circles by going forward to create similar environments. Places and groups that can make our kids and grandkids feel like they belong somewhere. So get inspired! Make a book cupboard, pump up your bike tires for a ride, teach someone about your garden, share a treat! Just find a way to "get back to where you once belonged"; It will do your heart some good, and will make you and this wonderful town in which we live, nothing but happy!