As some of you know, even if you have not been reading my blog, Tricia and I have the role of forerunners or pioneers in launching imagine/northampton. Of the 5 families on the Launch Team, all from Connecticut, we moved to Northampton first. As it turns out, we are still the only ones living here from the team.
The reasons are simple: selling homes in this market, and, for some, finding work. The home selling issue seems the most stubborn so far. Given the state of the market and the time of year, it has been a pretty exasperating situation.
Although Tricia and I harness the mules and make the trek to Simsbury most Sundays to hang out with the team for prayer and conversation, and they do the same on Monday nights for the LT world summit, I have been experiencing this weird “interrupt.” I know it happens naturally when people live apart, have different cultural experience, but it feels very frustrating to me nonetheless.
To give you some background: Northampton is not Simsbury. The difference between the two is marked, especially in terms of cultural attitudes, expectations and behaviors. I see things in Northampton I never saw in Simsbury. Northampton is educated, arty, fiercely-liberal, overtly political, proudly diverse, independent, even peculiar at times. Simsbury is educated, traditional suburbia, staid, conservative, family-focused and respectable, not particularly peculiar.
So as I think about it, this weird interrupt turns out to be how different the weekly experience feels for Tricia and me here, and the rest of the team there. Obviously, there are some similarities, but it feels often like we live in another country from them. So when I try to describe what we are experiencing, I feel frustrated, not because they can’t get it – these are bright, savvy people – they do get much of it. But because they are not experiencing daily how different Northampton is, it feels something gets lost in translation. It’s sort of like: “You really have to be up here to fully grasp what I am talking about.” Being up here is just that different and hard, at least for me, to translate.
I realize that slowly I am being changed by what I am living. I am loosening up in all sorts of ways. I am getting used to being among people who are cut from another cloth, counter-cultural, even radical in how they come at life -- people who before made me uncomfortable just being around because I was immersed in the suburbs near the “Insurance Capitol of the World.” I am learning a new language culturally, and having my assumptions rattled around a bit. What I say and how I say it is changing too.
For me, Northampton culture, before the astounding explosion of technology, feels much like who I was in the 60’s in New Mexico, and the early 70’s in Boston. There is a part of me still most at home in that creative cultural territory. Maybe it’s the jazzer and improviser part of my personality.
I know its my issue, but my weird interrupt with the team remains unsettling for me. I want them all up here soon so we can share in a common experience. I know they will be changed in their own ways when they finally live here. I look forward to walking that with them. Until then, some of the weird interrupt will linger, I suspect causing me to keep looking for ways to bring them into the world we now inhabit.