I've worked to create it wherever I've lived whether consciously or not. It's what made our wonderful neighborhood in Berkeley so fantastic. It's what initially drew me to the Junior League and I loved being a part of "Women Building Better Communities".
With the business that K. and I created, community was at the heart of our mission statement.
Speakeasy Theaters nurtures and grows local communities by entertaining, challenging and feeding the mind, body and soul through irreverent, respectful and whimsical entertainment and tasty, local, housemade food and drink.I knew that joining the Foreign Service would stretch many of the physical bonds of the communities I've been a part of - it can be difficult to keep those connections fluid when you're removed from so many day to day interactions. Facebook and Skype are wonderful tools - but they're not a substitute for running into a friend at the Farmer's Market and catching up.
But I also knew that I'd become a part of a larger, worldwide community. I'd seen examples of how the Foreign Service community reaches out to one another from all over the world - whether it's evacuations, or personal health issues, the FS community really comes together.
And then we had our most recent whirlwind hit. The out-pouring of love and support has been tremendous!
I've had tons of offers of places to stay both in Berkeley and in DC (when I undergo radiation); my father has driven up to be with me for the surgery; my sister is coming in for the aftermath; my mother has arranged things with her work so that she can Skype my kids whenever they need. When I started to lose it after traveling 30 hours and then having a 3 hours doctor's appointment, all I had to do was call on my dearest friend to come get me and he did - he and his partner plied me with burgers and Manhattans (my favorite cure) and a cozy bed (and then fresh eggs and coffee for breakfast).
My Vibrant colleagues have reached out from all over the world. Their love and support makes me feel so warm and cozy! I know that when I do my TDY at the Mothership, I'll get to hang out with some of them and that's a wonderful thing to look forward to.
The outpouring of support from the FS blogging community has been wonderful. I've seen it in action before, but never (since I don't think of myself as a writer and since I'm fairly new to this life) felt truly worthy to be in their community. People I've never ever met - only read about - have reached out to me with their support. I may even get to meet some of them when I'm in DC.
And our tiny Consulate community in Recife has been amazing! People we've barely met and have known for less than a month have been helping to take care of my family - playing with the kids, helping my husband tackle life in Brazil by himself, setting up our cell phones so we can maintain contact (thank you Viber!). I can't be with my husband and kids, but I know they are being very well taken care of.
Even the official channels and positions who have the responsibility of making sure that the US objectives are being met and taxpayers monies are being spent appropriately are also making sure that I'm being well taken care of and that my family and I are in a good place. It's nice to be working for such a great employer.
I head into surgery today knowing that my family and I are being taken care of and loved and supported from every possible angle. It doesn't take the burdens away, but it definitely makes them lighter (and more fun) when they're shared by so many people!
Community is a tremendous thing.