On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers.
— Adlai E. Stevenson
Today’s prompt took some thinking on my part:
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)
Ever since I lost my hearing, I’m not big on socializing generally. There’s often too much noise for me to hear everything clearly, and too many people talking across each other. I miss a lot; it’s hard to be the only one not reacting when the group suddenly bursts into laughter at a joke you weren’t even aware was being told. Plus, David is a bit of a hermit, so we spend a lot of time together, just the two of us.
When I do go places, to happy hours with co-workers, or Christmas parties, or a recent retirement dinner, I really enjoy talking to different new people and catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while, but it takes me a while to get comfortable and it takes an awful lot of energy to focus and pay attention to hear what people are saying.
I was pretty involved in an online community for several years, but that fell by the wayside once David and I got together and I didn’t have as much free time, or, rather, the free time I had, I wanted to spend with him, not chatting online.
This year, in February, David and I decided to try out curling. There’s a local curling club, and they had an open house right after the Winter Olympics where you could check it out and see how you liked it. We had so much fun in our one-hour lesson that we decided to join a 5-week league. We were paired with two other people we’d never met, and our team came in second in the league. After each match, the teams hang out in the “warm room;” the winning team buys the first round of drinks and we chat and get to know each other.
The club closes down in April and reopens in October – it costs way too much to try to keep the ice up during the summer months – so we talked occasionally over the summer about whether we wanted to officially join the club as full members when the season started again this fall. Our teammates from the Olympic League were coming back, and we decided to go for it. So, most Friday nights, we head up to Laurel for curling, beer, and conversation.
This past weekend, we participated in our first bon spiel, or tournament. It was an internal bon spiel, meaning it was only teams of people from our club (there are a lot of curling clubs in the US, and different clubs host numerous bon spiels throughout the season at which teams from other clubs are welcome). The rules for this particular bon spiel were created to encourage people to form teams with people they might not already know and who might be way more or less experienced that you. David and I played on a team with a guy who’s been curling for 7 years and a guy who has 1 year of experience. They were both really great people, and even though we lost all three games, we had a good time playing with them.
The Saturday portion of the bon spiel was an all-day event, with games and contests (Wii tennis, team sudoku), a gift exchange, and tons of food. Because we played three different teams, we got to spend time after each match with 4 new people. It was wonderful getting to talk to so many different people, only some of whom I’d met before, and to catch up with people we’ve played with/against since the Olympic League. When we left Saturday night, for the first time I really felt like I “belonged” to the club.
So that’s my community. I hope we remain a part of it for a long time.