It is a glorious day today in Northern Minnesota. As has most of the Midwest, we have been experiencing an especially hot and dry summer. We've had to water the garden often. The lawns are mostly dried up. We've had many more humid and sticky days than usual for this part of Minnesota.
But today is the perfect summer day. Sunny, blue sky with wisps of clouds along the edges. A light breeze playing in the trees. Very little humidity. The thermometer reads 78 F. Just about perfect.
We have a pool party to attend today. I'm a bit excited and a bit nervous at the same time. Yes, I know. This sounds strange. Like somehow, somewhere along the way, I couldn't quite get my big girl pants adjusted just right in social situations. I am shy. But yes, I know. I'm also loud and obnoxious. I often feel socially awkward. And yet, when I'm in my groove, I am totally at ease and love to socialize.
I've often said that one of the nicest things for me, personally, about having our kids in the local public schools has been getting to know the other parents and families. We lived in this rural area for about five years before I met my first non-church friends. Imagine that!
I am a pastor's wife. My husband serves four churches. He knows EVERYONE! But because I homeschooled the kids, and often stayed away from things like wedding receptions and funerals because of all the little bodies under my care, I didn't know anyone except the members of Joe's churches.
I've very much enjoyed getting to know the teachers at the schools and the other parents. We truly are blessed with the excellent community in which God has placed us. Our community is filled with wonderful parents and families; many who still hold to more traditional values and priorities.
However, even after ten years here, I still sometimes feel like a stranger. A foreigner. An alien.
I'm not from a small town area. I grew up in a small city, in a large suburban area about an hour south of Seattle. My town was adjacent to the large Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan region. I also went to parochial school, so my schoolmates were not my neighbors. I went to a Lutheran prep school in Wisconsin for my high school years. Halfway across the country from my home! I lived in a dorm during highschool with all my schoolmates, who were also from places as varied as Wisconsin and Minnesota, Texas, Missouri, California, and Alaska.
So this whole "small town, everyone knows everyone (and everyone's business), and we all care deeply about each other even though we might drive each other nuts" thing,..it is all strange to me. I'm acclimating after having lived here for over ten years. But I still feel like I have to tread carefully, because I might say or do something very wrong.
Now combine that little insecurity with my own social awkwardness and the fact that I tend to be loud and obnoxious when I feel comfortable, and well, it sometimes feels like a cauldron waiting to bubble over. And, oh yes, don't forget that I'm a pastor's wife. So I am always conscious of how my words and actions might bring shame or embarrassment to my husband's ministry, or to our churches or families. The whole mix is sometimes a bit overwhelming to me.
And so with this pool party. I don't know if I'll know anyone there. Joe has just confessed he does not think he has time to come. My Sophie is dying to go, since one of the hosts' daughters is Sophie's great buddy. John is looking forward to it, because he knows several of his friends will be there. The littler ones just like an outing.
And so we will go. I am sure I will enjoy myself. I am sure I will find wonderful people to visit with, becasue I always do. I will be glad afterwards that I pushed myself a little bit to be outgoing.
I really do love living here. I love the people here. I really am glad to have gotten to know so many new friends through my kids' school friends. Really, I love it.
It's a beautiful day for a party! Tremendous! Exciting!
But still, I can't help but feel a little bit of nervousness. Will I find someone I know to visit with, or will I sit on the sidelines and look pathetic? Will my kids behave, or will they embarrass me? Will I be able to handle all of them without losing my patience, or will I look like an overwrought mom with "too many kids" who should have "figured out what causes that" much sooner?
All these things I worry about. Not in a big way. Mostly I'm excited to go.
But still...oh, stop it now, silly girl! Just go and have a good time!
OK. Yes. I think I will do just that.