As mentioned in a prior entry here, I grew up in disconnected Orange County, California suburbia. Almost no one knew their neighbors, but no one seemed to mind. A few of the kids met other kids on our cul-de-sac, but other than that, one mostly recognized neighbors fleetingly as their cars stealthily moved in and out of garages, all with automatic garage door openers. (God forbid someone get out of the car to open or close the garage. After all, you might be spied and spoken to.)
My parents didn't belong to clubs or churches. So we two (my brother and I) didn't either. Oh, there were brief forays into Camp Fire Girls and Cub Scouts, but all of that came to a halt when my parents divorced and we were spun into the world of a smaller family, one with financial hardships and a mother trying her best but unable to be home as much as she (or we) would have liked. There was no time to run us to activities or groups or clubs. No time for belonging.
I gravitated toward some groups in high school . . .I loved acting and singing, (a surprise to no one who knows me), performed in a few plays, and was in the choir. I felt a small sense of tribe in the theater. We were teenaged, artsy, nerdy types, bound together by our somewhat precocious love of theater and song. I liked hanging out in the theater building, which, after a few years, felt like a dark, mysterious secret clubhouse of sorts. And lucky me, I belonged.
That was the only time I felt I truly belonged to anything, until quite recently. I've begun to work with an amazing group of people to create and build Odonata, an ecovillage in Massachusetts. In this group, I've found spiritual companions, interested and interesting folks who want to live more lightly on the earth, and with each other. Without so much as a secret handshake, I have been welcomed into this tribe, and I feel a belonging, even though we are still wading in the shallow end of this pool of community.
So . . .I didn't have much of a tribe growing up, and didn't have one as an adult, until now. I was always in awe of Native Americans, having been told I was part Sioux. As a grade-school girl I read book after book about the Sioux, and how they lived in harmony with each other and the earth. I often wished I was a Native American girl on the plains, in my soft buttery leathers in summer and my warm, furry buffalo robes in winter. I would belong to the tribe, and they to me, performing our ceremonies, weaving our stories together and turning our hearts to the Great Spirit.
So now, I get my chance. I will have ceremonies, weave my stories with others, and turn my heart to the Great Spirit. I can create my own tribe, and I think I will.