Since I walked across the stage for my high school graduation, I’ve been on the move! I left the sunshine and blue skies of California and walked into the politically-charged, grit and grime of Washington, DC. Leaving California to attend college on the East Coast wasn’t a hard choice, but I didn’t realize how important my close-knit family and ever-faithful friends were until they weren’t a part of my daily routine.
Surprisingly, finding new friends and developing new bonds was easy. There were thousands of people just like me. Recent high school graduates, away from home for the first time, looking for someone and something to connect to. Whether it was the California Club, the student newspaper team, people interested in volunteering, or people that loved making jewelry, the campus offered dozens of “communities” to help people feel connected and comfortable. It was my first lesson in understanding that your community is more than your neighborhood—it is whatever or whoever you feel connected to—the thing that brings you security.
I spent six years in the DC area, only to make a huge move to Buffalo, NY in 2006. Not only was I moving further from home, I was also getting married and preparing to start a family. After arriving in Buffalo, I had a difficult time adjusting. I didn’t have any family, didn’t have any friends, and there weren’t any established “communities” for people like me. Buffalo is a small town. Most of the people living here were born and raised in the area. They have friends that they’ve known since grammar school and they spend a lot of time with immediate and extended family.
I was officially an outsider. Not only am I not from Buffalo, I am from the other end of the country. A place that is as foreign to them, as Buffalo was to me. I struggled to find people that I connected to—struggled to find activities that interested me. All while adapting to being a wife and new mother.
It took some time, and a lot of effort, but just like in DC, I now have a community in Buffalo. Whether it’s my new extended family, a mommy group, or people that are interested in the same things that interest me, I have found a comfort zone. I have found a connection. In only a few years I have extended my kinship beyond my immediate kin. My community is made of people from the West Coast, the East Coast and everyone in between!
Makebra is a producer at One Economy Corporation. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.