All of my life I have searched for a place where I belonged. And I've found it here and there, but never for long. The small town I grew up in (Andersonville) out in the countryside of Tennessee had a population of about 500, and we didn't even live IN the town. It didn't even have stoplights. So everyone knew everyone, or at least knew a relative of someone. We had a tiny little church that my dad pastored and he and my grandfather started and literally built with help from the congregation. We lived on the adjoining land so I walked to church three times a week. (Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night). It was a small community and we lived there from when I was 2 to when I was 17. So most of the families at our church saw me grow up. These people were like extended family to me.
When I was 17 my family moved to California. It was a new state, a new place and new people. And they acted so differently. It was harder to get beyond the surface level. It was a city not a small town, and appearances mattered more than who you were. I went to college out there, trying to connect with classmates and roommates but never quite fitting. I had a couple friends in all the different social groups, but there wasn't a group that I belonged TO. I went to Thailand for a semester abroad, and that shared experience with a limited group of people helped me form friendships that last to this day. But of course we didn't see each other much after college.
I had a few other times in my life where I experienced belonging. Like when I moved back and lived in Thailand. Being in an unfamiliar place makes you cling to the familiar, so I developed a few friendships that became very close. I met my husband in Thailand and after we moved back to the states it was hard to keep in touch with these friends on the other side of the world (although I will never forget them).
Then we moved to Colorado. It was time to start over again. I made a few surface level friends again and some of those gradually deepened into real friendships. But they had their lives too, and sometimes months would go by without us talking or seeing each other. It could be very lonely. And people that hadn't lived in Thailand couldn't understand my experiences and it became a part of myself I shut off and didn't talk about anymore. Alone again.
But FINALLY I have started to discover a new tribe. Ever since I started doing vintage shows, I would make one or two other vendor friends each time. We had the shared experience of picking for a living. Loving junk and hoarding it and then selling and sharing it because our garages were overflowing. (P.S. I think the reason I love all this rusty, peeling, chippy junk is because it reminds me of the countryside of Tennessee. Of connections, of my sweet grandparents who lived next door to us). I was in an antique mall the other day and came across this old black metal cabinet that was missing drawers and it just spoke to me. I mean I almost started crying because it was stirring some kind of deep emotional connection in me. Not sure what that is linked to. But I probably should have bought the piece.
I am SO sad that when we moved away from Tennessee we gave away almost all of our antique furniture and memories. I think as I hunt for junk I am always trying to find a little bit of that attachment and bring it back.
So anyway I've collected friends along with my vintage finds. And when I was at a show (as a shopper, not a vendor! gasp!) last weekend to see my favorite blogger Liz Marie, I kept running across people I knew! I started doing shows around 3 years ago and now I know so many people in the "show biz". And we all share this kindred love of junk. It's the bond that ties us together. I love my vendor friends. I think I've finally found my Colorado "tribe".