Community Valentine

The community Valentine shows love to all of the people that surround us, that impact us, and create a sense of home and belonging.  The Domino’s guy is legendary in Fredericksburg if you’ve lived here for any length of time. Remember him? He used to stand out on Route 3 and wave and spin that sign with the greatest enthusiasm. I’d honk, wave, and shout every time, much to my car companions’ dismay. My favorite time, though, was the time I saw him up by the Ferry Farm Walmart on a ladder with a boom-box. Safety concerns aside, that guy had some major work ethic and was just plain awesome!

So why am I talking about him in a blog about love and Valentine’s Day? Well, most articles around this time of the year are about loneliness, how to get through it on your own, how to spice things up with your significant other, how to have good relationships with them, so on and so forth. We’ve heard it all before, right? But there are lots of different types of love. Romantic, love for our kids, our parents, our friends, but what about our home and communities? I can’t recall reading one about Valentine’s Day in the community and for fellow people. DeathtoStock_Vday7 So our world is getting bigger but smaller. Bigger in that we are exposed to much more information than previous generations. We have social media, “friends” all over the world, instant news, and almost no real filtering. This affects our mental health in so many ways. We tend to compare ourselves to others more; tend to believe our lives should be “better” in so many ways and post carefully edited versions of ourselves while secretly believing we should have more, be more organized, have more friends, a better marriage, better body, more well-behaved kids that participate in more activities, all of that. But as a whole people are also feeling lonelier. Love in a community is different. Ever notice that you travel back and forth to work with the same cars every day? Or see the same people from time to time at the grocery store? How about the same cashier or waiter that you have at the store or restaurant who helps you? People ask me all the time how to make friends as adults; how to form real connections in the screen age. It’s right in front of you. Taking time to notice that your barista has a haircut or fun new hair color, or to order in a pirate voice when they dubiously insist it’s National Pirate Day (turned out that one was for real), is a place to start. Or striking up a conversation in line at the bank (really!) to turn a routine trip into one that can form a lasting association. Relationships can start in the smallest ways simply with looking up and saying hi. Just take a look around. Slowly relationships begin to form, and the strangers who once bumped into you or just took your order start to become the friends who notice when you aren’t there. DeathtoStock_Vday4 When you start trying this out, little by little it gets easier and comfort grows. And what you may not realize is that you could be really impacting someone else. Other people may take comfort in seeing you; you see, you matter too. Love is spread in so many ways, especially during the Valentine season. You never know what battles a person may be fighting just by looking at them, and the mindset of “I’ll never see them again, what do I care?” simply isn’t true. Our ancestors stayed in contact with roughly the same 150 people in their lifetimes. If I could guess, I would say we probably do the same in our day to day interactions. So would it make a difference to you if you knew you made an impact in someone’s life just by being there? By the fact that they took comfort in noticing you driving next to them every day or that you shop on the same schedule? So back to the Domino’s guy—it’s been 3 years since I’ve seen him. I’m sure he has moved on to much bigger and better things. If I am in one of my chattier moods, I find myself bonding over him at business meetings and lamenting his absence and people who have been around exclaim over how happy he made us. But, I have a new “friend” I watch for. The happy water drop.  Who is your community Valentine?
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