Yeah. That. Courtesy of Wollongong, Australia

“Face it: you’re a town guy. You NEED people around you, neighbors to steal coffee from, people to shoot the bull with.”

Of course, she was right. People that know you generally are, especially when it comes to your defining characteristics. I was heading down an off-ramp of isolation, about to be compounded by a 24-hr. flu. My eyeballs were sore, my body ached and my mindset was all knotted up. Living as we do, out on 5 acres and surrounded by relatively xenophobic neighbors, you must get used to your own company, and if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a borderline Amish personality.

We’ve been out there about 6 years, and that which I loved so much has turned into a lonely landscape, especially this time of year, leaves off the trees and a bitter wind coming out of the west most days. Without the old excavation company to justify needing so much flatland, the big shop and wide open spaces, it is a reminder of a business gone; and, like the neighborhood feels when your lifelong friend moves away in the fourth grade, it’s that much less fun to live on that street. But mostly, I miss people.

Surely the need to be in contact with my fellow man is a thwarting mechanism for dealing with latent issues of abandonment, or some other psychological malady occupying the walls in my head. And, at the rate the therapist charges, you feel the need to consent most wholeheartedly. But there’s a part of me that prefers the wisdom of my friend in the coffee shop, she responsible for that quote above. I DO like people. I find them fascinating, their stories weaving character into our lives, so much more interesting than watching my weeds wither all winter long. I find a calm with people that I never would used to have, back when I acted so much older, a 65 year old in a 30 year old body, bitching nonstop about the errant ways of others.

Whether it’s at CrossFit, down at Patton Alley Pub, the ice rink or the firehouse, we all need some community. We need to belong to woodcarvers guilds and historical societies and fraternities of one stripe or another. When we leave those communities we tend to cast about, rudderless fools adrift in chum-laden chaos. And I LIKE chaos, just minus the chum.

I’m glad she recognized that fact; when we get down in the mouth it feels good for a friend to reach out and say “hey, jerk! Come back to your community. You may be an ass, but you’re our ass.” And sometimes that means a change of address.

I hope the future neighbors have coffee.