*To all my Denver friends who are coming out of the wood-work: I'm so sorry I didn't know you were all there! I'm in San Francisco now but if I come through Denver again I will let you know. Thanks for wanting to get together:)
How do you become part of a new community? Especially one that you are not sure how long you will be apart of? I want to be an active member of a community. There is belonging and accountability involved when you contribute yourself to a community.
I have given this summer serious thought. I have a job to do but I also have a life I want to live. I want to make the most of my time in San Francisco and become a part of the city in whatever small way I can. I have decided to do everything as close to a local level as I can. I only eat at local restaurants (no chains), shop at local farmer's markets, use as much public transportation as I can and follow some of the local norms like composting and recycling. This way I support the local economy, act as a socially responsibly global citizen and get to know a city from a different perspective.
Another way I am trying to gain community is by joining the YMCA. Every time I go in, Christina who works at the front desk, greets me by name. She is the one who took me on a tour of the facilities first and signed me up. She asked me about my job, compliments the bright yellow sweeter I wear and asks how the yoga class I've been taking is going. She has become a familiar face in my new routine and one I genuinely am excited to see. On the days she isn't working I feel like something is missing from my Y experience.
I'm also starting to recognize and be recognized by other women in the locker room. There is a friendly banter in there I wasn't expecting. These women know each other and conversations fly around me in other languages. The other day I left my earrings in a locker. I realized this once I got home and as the earrings were from Uganda and special to me I ran back to the Y hoping to find them. I prayed the whole way they would still be there. I found an older Chinese woman standing in front of the locker putting her things inside. I explained that I had left my earrings in there. She then opened her palm and my earrings were in her hand. She told me she knew someone precious would come back for them. I thanked her for taking care of them for me and she proceeded to offer a blessing to me. It was a beautiful moment. I was touched by her sweet spirit and friendly gesture of giving me a blessing. Those are the moments that make me yearn for community. Feeling loved by a stranger is a powerful feeling. I hope I can also offer that love to others.
I continue to create a life for myself in this new city. I smile to others as I walk down the street, I start up conversation with the person riding next to me on the MUNI and I explore neighborhoods in the hope that all the peace and love I believe in will be felt by others and greater community will be built.