FINDING THE HOME I ALREADY HAD by Jan Oosting Kaminsky
A Temporary Move Points us Back Home
Last year, my family and I were all a little bit down in the dumps – stressed, overworked, overwhelmed. It happens to the best of us. We all sat down and decided that it was time for an adventure, and landed on a move to Florida! We figured we would spend a lot of time in the sun, at the beach, and just being together as a family. We rented out our home and went down at the end of the school year to set up there, ready to jump into our new routine.
The houses were close together, the yards clean and bursting with flowers, the walking paths well marked, the pool refreshing…but where were the people? In Maplewood, when a new neighbor moves in, there is banana bread to be dropped off and there are resources to be shared. There are Facebook groups to join and ones to be warned against. There are stories to be shared about friends who might be a good fit for you, and trains and property taxes to be lamented. In this new community, you could be anonymous, which I guess is the point for a lot of folks who head down there. You can simply drop off of the face of the Earth and love it.
We coped with that feeling fairly well for a while, relying on each other as our community. The children quickly made friends and my wife and I worked tirelessly on our business and other work. Everything was just fine, until one day when our child had a serious health situation and we realized that we had NO ONE. No one to hold our hands, no one to come rushing to help with the other children, no one to bring us the customary lasagna. It took us about five minutes to realize that it was time to go home. You see, home is not just in the “Hi!”s and “How are ya?”s, but instead in the very real ways that we hold each other up – physically, emotionally, and socially.
Community, true community, is in the social net.
The net brings us flowers when we have a death in the family; the net picks up our kids at baseball or rehearsal when we are delayed at work. The net texts silly gifs at random times to check in; the net keeps our stuff in their garage while work is being done on our house. The net clears tree branches after a hurricane and snow after a blizzard. How had I missed this?
I guess as I reflect back on it, I knew how much support we receive from friends and loved ones in SOMA, but it took leaving and quickly becoming at risk of falling right through to internalize that the net is more important than almost anything. Because when you suddenly feel yourself hurtling earthward, and you look down and see that familiar woven pattern knitted firmly together and ready to catch you, you know in your heart that everything will, eventually, be okay.
Jan Kaminsky is a professor of nursing, a co-owner of Rainbow Health Consulting, and a mother of three children. She and her wife are 15-year (minus that short jaunt) residents of Maplewood. You can follow their work via social media on improving health for LGBTQ+ folks @rainbowhealthco, and catch all five Kaminskys on Nickelodeon’s “The Crystal Maze” March 27.