Are you familiar with the expression “It takes a village to raise a child”?
Well, this is a quick story of a village that changed a life forever, although it isn’t about a child.
All my life I’ve been an introvert. I have always preferred my own company over that of others. I like other people just fine; don’t get me wrong! But basically people wear me out, and I run home to find peace and solitude.
I’ve always had friends, but just a few. I participated in a few activities. But I was still happiest when I could sit and read a book, and not be “forced” to smile and nod and listen and speak …
I didn’t realize how much my first home with husband and kids suited me. We lived on a fairly busy street, not a cul-de-sac or anything like that, and although we had neighbors, they were not physically close to our house. We waved “hi” and all that, but we didn’t necessarily visit each other much. I could work in the garden, do whatever, and be friendly without having to be friends.
Six years ago I moved from that big house (2,200 s.f.) to a somewhat smaller condo community in the same town. Just 48 units, and I had the perfect one for me: an end unit in the rear of the complex. It was (still is) next to the big, green field that was actually the leaching field for our septic system. But it was high and dry, fenced, and it separated my building from the next one by about 100 feet.
Can you spell perfect? That really was!
Again, I could wave to people, get to know them a little, but not have to see them or be seen by them too much. That end unit gave me more privacy than any other one would have, and I loved it.
Then, for reasons that made sense at the time but changed my life completely, I moved from that 1,500 s.f. condo to a tiny 525 s.f. cottage on Buttermilk Bay, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Originally I bought it as a “summer place,” without quite understanding the costs involved. The purchase price was terrific (it was bank-owned), but somehow I got snookered (that’s fooled, for those who don’t know the term) by some folks who said I could just fix it up a little and it would be fine.
About that. Let’s just say I got a crash course in construction. Better that, though, than having the house crash because the beams holding it up were pretty rotten. And the cellar, such as it was, was filled with sand. The cottage tilted (still does, just a tiny bit). And the house is on two hills, so there was pressure from all sides.
After working out the $$$ to create a new poured foundation and bring the utilities up to code, I realized that if I had to put that much money (more than the purchase price) into rehabbing the place, I might as well move again, this time to a really small place with fabulous water views. The budget was not going to stretch enough to allow me to have two places, and ultimately it was no contest; this place won my heart.
So back to the introvert in a village. I actually chose to live in a village neighborhood of 265 cottages, many of which are 10′ or so from the next one as mine is, spread over 27 acres.
Go ahead, measure 10 feet. I’ll wait.
Privacy? Hah! No. None. My right-hand neighbor’s front door is on the side of her house about 10′ from my bedroom window. My left-hand neighbor luckily offers me a blank wall, so although I have a nice window, no one can see in.
One of the major interior roads goes right by the front of my cottage; I’m about 8′ from the house front to the edge of the road and I’m grateful EVERY day that we have a 5 mph speed limit. My kitchen window looks right out at the walkers, bikers, and cars going by.
And I flat out love it. Seriously.
I LOVE LIVING HERE!
For some reason, the whole place appeals to me, with all the people living here in the summer, the noise, the kids, the dogs — everything! (OK. There really are way too many summer folks here, but it’s just for two months. We year-round residents manage.)
I thoroughly enjoy going out with Gibbs and Abby — my two rescued dogs — and talking with the other dog owners and non-dog owners — anyone, actually — about living here. About being on the Board of Directors. About finding ways to help the village become even better than it has been. I find I’m loving all of it — me! The introvert!
I seek people out. I have a couple of friends who walk with me every day, and we all love it. I talk to everyone. I listen to everyone. I smile way more here than I think I did in the last ten years.
Who is this woman, and what has she done with my old self?
So for those who think they know themselves inside and out, through and through: You never know what life will throw at you. You never know what life will do to change you in ways you can’t imagine until it happens.
So go live your life, knowing that the road will twist and turn, and each time you see something new you might be delighted. At least there’s a possibility of that, right?
What’s the biggest surprise about yourself you ever got? Are you happy with it? Not?