Grew up in the city of Malden. About 4 miles north of Boston; perfect city location to live. Thickly populated with defined neighborhoods. Lots of history. Some nice homes. Immense diversity. I have a love hate relationship with where I grew up though. What I am figuring out now, as a grownup and parent, is that I never had an affinity for my hometown cause I was missing something. Community.
Being that my parents are immigrants, when they moved to MA they started making roots in the city they first moved to, Waltham. Which they lived for a handful of years before I was born. Being that most immigrants flock together, they spent time in Waltham, the North End of Boston, Watertown and wherever their Italian friends lived. So, they weren’t technically connected to Malden from their start there; which means we didn’t get dragged to many city events, parades, or anything in and around Malden. I had no attachment to the happenings there either, and I don’t know if it’s in part cause of this. However, I love the house I grew up in, and my neighborhood, too. The memories we have made and are still making are amazing. My parents are still there. I grew up in the hilly area off the Fellsway, in a yellow and brown colonial. The house is now a trendy, beige, cream and cranberry..my parents have done wonders with the house. It’s in a nice neighborhood where families live, and take care of their homes. We were so much closer to Melrose, a real nice city. As a kid, I was known to tell the boys Melrose was where I lived. I know, how silly.
Now, I live in a suburb north of Boston. People love my town. I like it. The town is affluent, and has a ton of history that I am still learning about. We live near the historical area of town, and less than a mile from the elementary school. Our house is a green contemporary situated on almost an acre, which we love, and have been working on since we moved in. The neighborhood isn’t really a neighborhood though. There is a family across the street, though they are friendly, there is no connection. It’s not like my children go over there house or vice versa, though I have told their kids they are welcome anytime. I grew up in a neighborhood that was always active with kids and I want that for my children. Oh well. So, where was I? Yeah, so, there is an older woman to our left who scares us, and an older couple who are nice, but they are on their way to move sometime soon, on our right. That’s about it.
The one issue I thought I had with this town, the distance from Boston, was not actually the issue after all. It’s feeling like an alien where I live. I used to joke that this town had never seen a blue haired girl before so it must be shocking amongst all the khakis and cardigans. I was coming up with anything I could to not make it about me personally. But, that is not it cause being a little creative is a good thing in this town.
I really didn’t like feeling the way I have for the past 8 yrs. So, I started thinking about what the issue actually was. It’s not the distance, because we are technically not THAT far. It’s not my hair. It’s simply not belonging, and not because of anything else but being an outsider. I made a decision that I wanted to be a part of my community, for myself and my kids, like for what I missed out on in Malden. My husband was always a part of his hometown. He played football in HS, he had an older sister who was in HS close by, his Mother grew up in that town, and his bffs still live there. So, he had a great foundation already there, and we spend a lot of time in Reading. I like that town a lot too.
My husband and I love taking the girls on adventures anytime we can. But since we have been so used to going down to Boston or Cambridge, or even Reading, since we’ve been married we needed to tweak that. Heading to Boston is still great fun to do, and we will always do it (I love Boston and am a city girl!), but we had to start doing more than our usual library, bank, and coffee runs in our town. We have one child in the school system, and another one on her way next year. In 2011, when my oldest started Kindergarten, we started attending more of the town’s activities; going to town events, the farmer’s market, and exploring local spots to hike. Then when she started First Grade this year, I pulled her out of our old church on the other side of town to the one right nearby in downtown. Which I did so she could be in her religious education classes with the kids in her class. What a good thing! Every time we are out our oldest sees a school friend or someone from her religious education classes, and I get to meet new people and it feels good. It makes me happy.
Also, I have been trying to shop and be seen more locally; creating relationships that way. I have become a familiar face at the Starbucks, which makes me happy. No name needed on my cup! During pickup at my daughter’s school, I have become acquainted with a few moms that hang outside with their youngest children. It’s been real nice to get that going. And, there is a shop where the owner and I chat for periods when we see one another.
I didn’t move thousands of miles away like my sister had. She moved to Italy in 2007, and I always think how hard it must have been for her to even get a footing there. Which she has done so well cause she is personable, and also cause we have our family there, and her husband is from there. Not that it makes it easy, but it’s a start. Living somewhere new is an adventure, and a fresh start. I guess I just never thought I had to try. I find I am happy to be up here now, in general.
I am going to continue to dig my heels in this soil and make it my home. Rooting the best I can for my family.
I am starting to feel a spark of what community is, and I really like it.